“They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord …” Isaiah 11:9
Harding School of Theology’s recent academic theme, “Peaceable Kingdom,” and verse, Isaiah 11:9, are illustrative of Ron Wade’s approach to the Kingdom of God. Ron embodies the Biblical description of peacemaker. He is a collaborative, humble, and empowering church and community leader.
Ron is a native Memphian who graduated from Kingsbury High School and the University of Memphis with a degree in marketing. He married Christy in 1980. She has been at his side in all of his spiritual service. They have two married children, Daniel and Anna, and four grandchildren.
Ron grew up in the Macon Road Church of Christ in Memphis and served there in numerous capacities as an adult. In 1992 he and Christy began attending the Highland Church of Christ. They soon became leaders in the “International Class” which evolved into a major Chinese ministry that now has its own worship service at Highland. Ron became an elder at Highland in 2005.
After working in the corporate world for 30 years, Ron became Executive Director of HopeWorks, Inc., in 2008. This nonprofit 501(c)(3) provides education, spiritual development, and respect for work. Through daily classes and meals, educational training, and spiritual counseling, HopeWorks strives to break the cycle of crime, addiction, and generational poverty that traps so many in the city of Memphis.
Under Ron’s leadership, HopeWorks has experienced unprecedented growth. Two recent Department of Justice grants totaling more than $1.5 million significantly expanded holistic reentry services. Ron’s vision has inspired the agency in its work to meet the education and employment needs of impoverished Memphians.
Ron is quietly transforming the Memphis community by demonstrating that anyone, given opportunity and encouragement, can turn his or her life around. Ron’s vocation is a demonstration of the reality of the Peaceable Kingdom. Ron, through HopeWorks, has made a path for individuals whom society has viewed as a threat and marginalized.
In his home, in his church, and in his profession, Ron is an example to emulate. Harding School of Theology is proud to count him among its graduates. It is a pleasure to add him to the pantheon of HST Alumni of the Year.