July 24, 2002 News & Features » Cover Story

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Vander Warner 

Pioneering televangelist

Still, Warner faced discord within the Virginia ranks because of his controversial support of a fundamentalist faction in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Since retiring 10 years ago, Warner has focused on building an educational ministry called Home Before Dark. "Anyone away from God is away from home, in my opinion," he says. Established in 1991, Warner's small, nonprofit organization is based at his home in Rockville, and it allows him to minister to pastors and churches, most in Virginia. In that time, he has worked with about 50 churches. The idea came one day, years back when he heard of a survey conducted by James Dobson's organization, Focus on the Family. "Some 70 percent (of pastors surveyed) felt like either leaving the ministry or the need to change churches. ... I just know that leadership in the church struggled and had no one to talk to."

In the past six years, Warner also has been the co-pastor of a makeshift church of 300 in Beaverdam that currently meets in an elementary school every Sunday. He preaches every first and third Sunday. The rest of the time, he travels to other churches, to preach on behalf of Home Before Dark.

Now 72 and a widower, Warner says, "The theme of my life, and certainly now, is this great old verse in Nehemiah that says, '"The joy of the Lord is your strength.'"

— Lisa Singh

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