8 March 2019 | Retired pastor, educator and writer Stuart Tyner died unexpectedly this week at his home in Riverside, California. He spent a lifetime teaching, preaching, and writing about his favorite subject: God’s incredible grace. More than anything, he wanted children to know the profound, motivating truth that “Jesus loves me.” He traveled extensively to speak about grace as “the one great truth around which all other truths cluster,” to seek historical insight on the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, and to discover additional illustrations of grace from the treasures of Western art.
Before retiring in 2012, Tyner served as pastor for nurture and discipleship at the La Sierra University (LSU) Church. Prior to that he was the director of the John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry at La Sierra University. He played a key role with Dr. V. Bailey Gillespie, professor in the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School at LSU, in the Valuegenesis research, a series of major surveys of students in Adventist schools in North America conducted in 1990, 2000 and 2010 with a fourth round planned for 2020. Ironically, Gillespie passed away last summer.
The Valuegenesis study began as a component of Project Affirmation, a research and renewal planning process of the Office of Education in the denomination’s North American Division (NAD). More than 13,000 students responded to the first survey along with additional samples of parents and pastors. The Project Affirmation Taskforces gave recommendations for change and Tyner participated in the Hancock Center, a research and resource center, helped plan a revision of the children’s and youth Sabbath School curriculum and wrote and/or edited many materials that brought renewal and a grace-oriented theme to Adventist education, youth ministry, children’s ministry and family life.
Tyner graduated from Monterey Bay Academy in 1963 and Pacific Union College four years later. He worked as a history and Bible teacher in Adventist secondary schools and later as a youth pastor.
He was the author of six books, including Searching for the God of Grace, a history of the development of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, from ancient times through the Biblical period, into Christian history and through its development in Adventist fundamental beliefs. Another notable volume still in print is Chosen by Grace, a careful study of end-time events through the lens of a grace orientation. One of his books is specifically a children’s book used by many parents for family worship–The Meanest Man in the Army and Other Stories of Grace.
Tyner is well known among pastors and lay leaders involved in ministry with teenagers. His nearly 300-page The ABZs of Adventist Youth Ministry is still the primary handbook for this specialized area of church activity.
Tyner and Gillespie wrote a number of tools designed to implement the findings from the Valuegenesis research. These included Walking on the Edge: Thirteen Interactive Bible Studies for Adventist Students in Public High School, which was designed to meet a specific need previously ignored by the denomination. Also A Guidebook for Creating and Implementing A Spiritual Master Plan, which is used by all the Adventist colleges and universities in the NAD.
Tyner will be remembered as a loving father, husband, grandfather, and friend to everyone. His warm smile, melodic voice, political debates, wise counsel, and love for the Los Angeles Dodgers will be missed.
He is survived by wife Karen and their children, Erin (Miller), Matthew, and Benjamin; six grandchildren, Emma, Jacob, Sophia, Joshua, Gabriel, and Lyra; and his sister Julie. He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Florence, and his sister Jane.