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It’s graduation season for colleges and universities, a number of which are awarding honorary doctorates to a variety of luminaries. One of the least famous but most deserving of those recipients was honored May 8 during graduation ceremonies for the Campbell University Divinity School.

Campbell awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Janice Haywood, and she deserves every letter on the framed diploma she was given. It was my honor to participate in the service by placing the doctoral hood on her shoulders.

Janice has devoted her life to children and their faith. She grew up in Louisiana as the child of an associational missionary. She earned her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University, and master’s degrees from both Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She’s a certified coach: she just doesn’t stop learning — or teaching.

For more than 30 years, Janice was the “go to” person in children’s ministry for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. She took early retirement in 2008 to become an independent consultant, teacher, and trainer. Along the way, she has taught hundreds of children in her Sunday School classes, and trained thousands of adults to grow in their understanding of children and their ability to teach them well.

In 1999, Janice conceived, developed and implemented a Preschool and Children’s Ministry Certification program in partnership with the Baptist State Convention and the Campbell University Divinity School. It was so well received that she also teaches it in Virginia through the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. This fall, she will begin offering the same course of study nationally through a partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Campbell University Divinity School.

Janice has written a written a number of articles and booklets related to children’s ministry, and in 2007 she published Enduring Connections: Creating a Preschool and Children’s Ministry. Doctoral candidates going the traditional route write a dissertation that is rarely read by anyone beyond the committee that approves it. Janice wrote a textbook that is acclaimed by other specialists and already in use at multiple seminaries.

I can’t imagine that anyone knows more about the intersection between child development, faith development, and church dynamics than Janice Haywood, or anyone more deserving of the honor she received.

Doctor J is in the house.

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