THOMAS CORTS, former president of the Baptist-affiliated Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States, died
suddenly on Wednesday, February 4.
Corts was actively involved within the Baptist World Alliance since 1985. At the time of his death, he was a member of the BWA
General Council, vice chair of the Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity, and a member of the Study and Research Executive
Committee and the Academic and Theological Education Workgroup.
In remembering Corts, BWA President David Coffey said, “Tom was a great ambassador for the Baptist movement worldwide and
a mentor to us all with his outstanding gifts of grace and wisdom.” Coffey stated that Corts “was a faithful friend and advocate of the
Baptist World Alliance and we remember with appreciation how he served us with great distinction on numerous occasions.”
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, in recalling his visit to the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in September
2007, described Corts as “a distinguished Baptist leader and an outstanding educator” who was “a most humble and gracious host.”
“Corts was a perceptive commentator on the church’s responsibility to nurture her young for Christian discipleship in both the private
and public spheres,” said Callam. “We offer condolences to his wife, Marla, and their entire family.”
Corts was president of Samford from 1983 until his retirement from that position in 2006, whereupon he was named president
emeritus. The school had several noted achievements during Corts’ tenure. Among the highlights were the purchase of Samford’s
London Study Centre, significant growth in the school’s endowment, construction of more than 30 campus buildings, and an increase
in student enrollment.
He was a former chairman of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). He also
served as president of SACS, the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Association of
After his retirement, Corts served as executive director of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, which
represents 52 Baptist higher learning institutions. In 2007, he was appointed by former US President George W. Bush to coordinate US
international education aid.
A public memorial service took place on Sunday, February 8, in the Leslie Stephen Wright Center Concert Hall on the Samford
Corts leaves his wife of 44 years, Marla, two daughters, and one son. He was 67 years old.
SIMON H. SIRCAR, former president of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship (BBCF) and past principal of the College of
Christian Theology-Bangladesh (CCTB), died on February 8.
Sircar was described by BBCF General Secretary, Leor Sarkar, as “a spiritual father, mentor, theologian, renowned pastor, preacher,
evangelist and most respected Christian personality in Bangladesh.” The BBCF leader also referred to him as a “pioneer of church
The highly regarded preacher pastored the Savar Baptist Church in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, prior to becoming president of
CCTB for 23 years, retiring from that institution at the end of 2006. He was the first Bangladeshi to hold a doctor of theology degree.
At the time of his passing, Sircar was a member of the Academic and Theological Education Workgroup of the Baptist World
He leaves wife, Ashima, and sons, Bapi, Happi, and Rafi.
PETER TONGEMAN, former president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB), died on March 12 from a rare heart
condition. He was 79 years old.
Tongeman received his ministerial training at Spurgeon’s College and went on to pastor several churches in England, including in
Luton, Northampton, and New Milton.
A member of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Youth Committee from 1965-1970, Tongeman was involved in the 7th Baptist Youth
World Conference held in Berne, Switzerland, in 1968. He also served as secretary for the BUGB young peoples’ department, and was
president of the BUGB in 1995.
“Peter Tongeman was a true internationalist and ambassador for the life and witness of the BWA family,” said BWA President David
Coffey. “He attended some of the first gatherings for the European Baptist Federation and the BWA in the difficult period following the
Second World War in Europe and he always carried in his heart a vision for gathering God’s global family together for fellowship and
“He was a diligent pastor, creative preacher and accomplished writer, poet and musician,” said Coffey.
Tongeman is survived by his wife, Ruth, and other family members.
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