Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Manuscript Collections :
Synthetic Collections :

Robert Gibson Rayburn
Manuscript Collection #025
Boxes #34, 252 and 425-430

Content Summary: Correspondence, writings and materials reflecting Dr. Rayburn's work within several Presbyterian denominations. See the individual box-level descriptions below for more information.

Span dates: 1956 - 1990 Size: 8.0 cu. ft. (eight boxes)

Access: This collection is open to researchers.

Preferred citation:
Robert Gibson Rayburn Manuscript Collection, PCA Historical Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Robert G. Rayburn
[14 January 1915 – 5 January 1990]
Special Note: Dr. Rayburn's eulogy for Francis Schaeffer.

Related Collections:
Covenant College; Covenant Theological Seminary; see especially the Rayburn Correspondence in Box 7 and Box 8 among the Covenant College/Covenant Seminary Records; Bible Presbyterian Church; Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod; Laverne Rayburn Manuscript Collection.

Biographical sketch:

Robert Gibson Rayburn was a native of Kansas. He was born and reared in the city of Newton, the son of a well-known evangelist, Dr. James Rayburn. It was under his father’s tutelage that he had his first ministerial experience, while assisting with his father’s evangelistic campaigns.

He was graduated in 1935 from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and earned two degrees at Omaha Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1938 and 1940. After his first pastorate in Bellevue, Nebraska, where he served from 1938 until 1942, he next went to Dallas, Texas for graduate studies at Dallas Seminary where he received the Th.D. degree in 1944. At the same time he was serving as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Gainesville, Texas. He was also granted the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Geneva College.

Dr. Rayburn’s ministry in Gainesville was cut short by his entry into the military chaplaincy, serving in the U.S. Army from 1944-1946. During this time, he served overseas in the European Theatre. Upon discharge from the service, he returned to the pastorate following the end of the war and was pastor of the large College Church of Christ (interdenominational) in Wheaton, Illinois from 1946-1950. However, he was recalled to military service during the Korean War and served as a chaplain with the paratroopers of the 187 th Airborne Regiment, 1950-1952. His experiences in that conflict he recorded in one of his books, Fight the Good Fight.

Returning again to civilian life, Dr. Rayburn accepted the presidency of Highland College in Pasadena, California, and served there from 1952-1956. A division of the old Bible Presbyterian denomination brought about the formation of Covenant College, and Dr. Rayburn was drafted to lead this new school as its president. One year later, Covenant Theological Seminary officially began, and by this time, the property in St. Louis had been purchased and both schools were situated on this property in St. Louis. Amazingly, it was during this very busy time that Dr. Rayburn was also pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian church in Hazelwood, Missouri, from 1958-1962. Growth in the two schools finally prompted the relocation of Covenant College to Lookout Mountain, Tennessee in 1964. Dr. Rayburn remained as president of the Seminary until his retirement in 1977. In all, he served as president of the College for eleven years and the Seminary for 21 years. Following his retirement, he continued to minister at the Seminary as professor of Practical Theology and as the Director of the Doctor of Ministry program. Following a long battle against cancer, Dr. Rayburn died on 5 January 1990.

Box 34 - Correspondence [Brewton - Wilson]; Minutes for Covenant Theological Seminary, Mid-South Presbytery (BPC) and Midwestern Presbytery (RPCES).

Box 253 - Materials on various issues within the Bible Presbyterian Church, leading up to and including the division of the BPC in 1956; Transcript of Dr. Rayburn's 1943 ecclesiastical trial; Student papers from Covenant Theological Seminary.

Box 425 - Correspondence Files, A - K, 1974 - 1987.

Box 426 - Materials reflecting Dr. Rayburn's interest and participation in the arts, especially choral work; documents and curriculum pertaining to Covenant Theological Seminary; correspondence [MacNair - Mietling]; documents relating to the Missouri Roundtable organization, 1981-1983.

Box 427 - Materials in Box 427 range across much of Dr. Rayburn’s life and ministry. Included are documents about his family, personal interests, military career, academic work and ministry. Approximately half of this box reflects Dr. Rayburn’s activity in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod and related efforts, including the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC).

Box 428 - Contents include materials from the National Presbyterian and Reformed Fellowship from its inception in 1971 until closure in 1983. Other materials include a folder on the justification controversy centering around Norman Shepherd at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, political files and general correspondence. File 49 contains correspondence with Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, a close friend of Dr. Rayburn's.

Box 429 - Correspondence (primarily "T" - "Y"), articles, conference materials, and biographical documents.

Box 430 -
Ephemera, awards, and plaques.

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