Recognizing the life work of a mentor to pastors, North Greenville University (NGU) recently presented the 2021 Paula and Ken Hemphill Award for Denominational Service to the late Dr. T. Walter Brashier, Sr. The honor was bestowed posthumously to the noted real estate developer who died March 24, 2021, at the age of 86, after battling several health issues in recent years.
“Many do not realize that Dr. Brashier was also an evangelist,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. “He preached over 1,000 revivals across the Carolinas, and he was a mentor to pastors all over the place.”
The Hemphill Award was presented on June 15 in Nashville, TN, at NGU’s Alumni and Friends Dinner during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. More than 90 people were in attendance at the dinner in the Aquarium Restaurant.
The award recognizes “servant leadership empowering Southern Baptists’ kingdom growth.” It is named in honor of the noteworthy Southern Baptist denominational service of Paula and Ken Hemphill. With careers spanning global missions, local pastorates, seminary leadership, and writing books on varied ministry topics, the Hemphills are actively engaged in developing resources that enhance strategic work in evangelism and church revitalization.
“I can’t think of anybody – outside of the South Carolina Baptist Convention – who influenced North Greenville as much as Dr. Brashier did,” said President Fant. “He influenced South Carolina and North Carolina Baptists on a level hardly anybody did.”
Although he struggled with varied health challenges in recent years. Brashier continued engaging with evangelical ministry and the higher education causes he had supported through transformational gifts during his career. The Upstate native was NGU’s greatest individual donor, with his philanthropic investments to the university nearing $10 million since an initial 1972 gift to fund the construction of apartment units on the Tigerville Campus.
Noting Brashier’s work with local churches, Dr. Fant also highlighted the late philanthropist’s engagement with Southern Baptists’ Radio and Television Commission. He provided crucial funding and shared devotional messages for a variety of the commission’s weekly radio programs which spanned Country, Adult Contemporary, and news-talk formats across North America.
“We wanted to recognize him for his service to the church because he has made a difference,” Dr. Fant said, referencing Brashier’s work in active ministry and through generous financial support. “Because he loved Jesus, he believed it was God’s money given through him to support the kingdom.”
Dr. Wesley Brashier, grandson of T. Walter Brashier, Sr., accepted the honor for the family.
“The three things my grandfather treasured most were faith, family, and friendships,” said the younger Brashier. “ This award represents all three of those things. He was very passionate about investing in ministry.”
In addition to a framed certificate recognizing the award, Dr. Fant presented Brashier with a booklet of letters of appreciation from other South Carolina Baptist leaders, including Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, executive director-treasurer for the South Carolina Baptist Convention; Dr. Evans Whitaker, president of Anderson University; Dr. Dondi Costin, president of Charleston Southern University; and Dr. Stephen Crouse, NGU senior campus minister.
Walter Brashier’s widow, Christine Brashier, was able to view the presentation online from her home in South Carolina’s Upstate.
“We are so proud of your husband and your family and grateful for the ways you have invested in kingdom work,” Dr. Fant said to Mrs. Brashier. “There are so many people who have benefitted from the prayers, from the mentorships as well as from the gifts. What a difference maker. At the place where Christ makes the difference, Walt Brashier made a difference, as well, for Christ.”
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