Published April 3, 2017
Clarks Summit University extends deep condolences to the family of Dr. Milo Thompson. Thompson, the university’s 8th and longest-serving president, passed away April 1, 2017.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, April 5, at 3 p.m. with calling hours from 1–3 p.m. at Grace Christian Fellowship in Cortland, New York.
Dr. Milo Thompson
Thompson was a speaker, pastor and leader in organizations such as Northeast Fellowship of Independent Baptist Churches, Camp BaYouCa, Baptist Mission of North America, Association of Baptists for World Evangelism and the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, where he served as state representative for the Empire State Association. He also founded ChristWay ministries.
Thompson served as president of Clarks Summit University from 1986–2000. Prior to that time, he served seven years on the university’s board of trustees, including time as chairman.
Born in Cooperstown, New York, Thompson attended Cornell University, planning for a career in medicine. He and his wife Beverly later attended Bob Jones University to train for a life of ministry. He graduated in 1957 and served as senior pastor in churches in New York and Pennsylvania for a quarter century.
Thompson earned his Doctor of Ministry from Trinity International University with a thesis project, “Discipling Men for Godly Leadership in the Local Church,” and he was granted an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Cedarville University.
Leader, Preacher, Teacher
Immediately prior to becoming president of Clarks Summit University, Thompson served as pastor at Heritage Baptist Church. There, he initiated a service for college students, a discipleship ministry, small groups and a family teaching program for use at home.
A CSU yearbook dedication explains one of his favorite challenges from Scripture was, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Dr. Friedie Loescher affirms Thompson’s commitment to that Scripture. The two men worked closely together at Heritage Baptist Church; Loescher then served vice president of student development during Thompson’s tenure as president. Loescher describes Thompson as a levelheaded man, strong leader and highly respected man dedicated to his family. He says one of Thompson’s strengths was his chapel ministry to students, because he was an excellent expository preacher.
Current CSU president Dr. Jim Lytle agrees, recalling, “When I was a college student, I attended a retreat where Dr. Thompson gave an expository survey of Ephesians. It was the first time that I had heard a Bible teacher let the Word speak for itself. It proved to be a watershed for me in my approach to God’s Word. Years later, we studied for our doctoral degrees at the same school, riding out to Chicago together several times. Dr. Thompson’s pastoral insights helped me serve the students in my classes a lot more effectively. I remain grateful for his input in my life and growth.”
A yearbook dedication describes Thompson’s work as, “marked by personal integrity and a desire to see others experience the joy of serving the Lord in full-time career ministry.” During his presidency, the seminary building was constructed; doctoral programs were added; internships for practical leadership became a part of the academic requirements, Project Jerusalem began, and the seminary grew. The graduate program was launched with degrees in education and counseling. The on-campus counseling center was founded, and online education options were first offered. Enrollment grew, so Carter Residence Hall was constructed, and plans were made to add Loescher Residence Hall.
Kathy Compton served in the President’s Office with Thompson. She recalls, “Throughout his ministry, his personal time in God’s Word and prayer were high priorities. He was also a family man, encouraging his seven children to pursue their chosen vocations but to keep the Lord first and the local church as a high priority.”
She also recalls his approach to healthy budgeting and strategic planning. Under his presidency, many new members were added to the Board of Trustees, and the BBC Foundation was established.
“His life as a faithful follower of Christ and ministry as a spiritual leader left an impact on multiple generations,” attests Jim Jeffery, who followed Thompson as the 9th president of CSU. “His walk with God in the Bible and prayer became the roots of wisdom, grace and strength.”
Donald A. Shirk, chairman of the CSU Board of Trustees, points to Psalm 145:4 as he recalls Thompson. “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” Shirk explains, “Few men have so dedicated their lives to passing down their grasp of the greatness of God than Dr. Milo Thompson. In a series of strong and effective pastorates, and in a substantive and compelling presidency at our school, he served with godly distinction. He was quiet and unassuming, yet a lion in velvet who compelled both church members and church leaders to emulate his example of loving and serving Christ. I am grateful to have sat under his instruction and to have had him challenge the church I pastor multiple times. This sentiment is echoed by many. While our loss is Heaven’s gain, we are grateful for the blessing of his well-lived life.”