Online Christian studies director brings mission field experience

By Alana Hu
Staff Writer

Union University’s new online master of Christian studies program is led by Hayward Armstrong, the only person among Union’s 242 faculty members with a degree in distance education, who has been named director of the program and will teach or facilitate most of the courses.

Armstrong will serve as the director and continue to develop and oversee the curriculum.

He has been involved in distance education in some form or another since 1980, both overseas with the International Mission Board and in the United States, Armstrong said.

“For the past seven years, I was privileged to oversee the distance, online, extension and intercultural programs at Southern Seminary, where I learned a lot, and [I] hope that can be applied to this new challenge,” he said.

Armstrong and his family lived overseas for more than 20 years while he has worked with the IMB.

He has lived in Costa Rica, Peru, Chile and Columbia and worked extensively in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

For Armstrong, living overseas was not much different than living in the States, he said. One of the difficulties was that many family members died during this time and he was unable to be with them.

“My family and I developed friendships and relationships with others in the same field,
like those we had in the States,” Armstrong said. “Once we were accustomed to that and the cultural differences, we had two options: to enjoy it or to be miserable, and we chose to enjoy it.”

Armstrong returned to the States in 1999.

In 2005, he became the associate vice president for online learning and intercultural programs and the associate professor of Christian Missions at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

After several months of correspondence with Dr. Greg Thornbury, dean of the School of Theology and Missions and professor, about the possibilities of coming to Union, Armstrong began to feel that it was time for a change.

“This was an opportunity that the Lord was providing,” Armstrong said. “[It was] a new opportunity and challenge that was presenting itself with all the pieces fitting together nicely. The conviction I felt was the Holy Spirit leading me here.”

Armstrong, an Alabama native, arrived at Union in late May and began his new role in June.

He is married to Sherra, is the father of Rachel and Taylor and the grandfather of three, Callie, Abby and Claire.

In his spare time, Armstrong enjoys yard work and gardening, cooking, reading and
other handyman-type projects.

Armstrong also enjoys working on restoring his 1952 Chevy pickup truck, which he purchased from a junkyard in South Carolina nine years ago.

Since he purchased it, the truck has been restored and can be seen parked outside of Jennings Hall.

Armstrong graduated in 1974 from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., with a bachelor of arts in human relations.

He then received his master of divinity in Biblical studies and education and earned his doctorate in educational foundations from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, in 1976 and 1983, respectively.

In 2005, he received his master of distance education from the University of Maryland University College.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.