Board of Trustees

Trustee Emeritus

Stanley Burgess was born to missionary parents serving in South India. His father, John Burgess, went to India in 1927 to found Bethel Bible School, the earliest surviving Assemblies of God College outside the United States. At an early age, he learned to speak Malayalam, the language of Travancore (now known as Kerala).

His family's time in India was interrupted by the Second World War, when Japan invaded Burma. With the cessation of hostilities, Stanley returned to India, enrolling in an English boarding school at Conoor in the Palni hills. Three years later, he transferred to an American school in Kodaikanal. There at the age of ten, Stanley met his future wife, Ruth Vassar, then eight years of age.

In 1950 his family returned to the States, where Stanley attended high school in Flint, Michigan, and subsequently, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After completing undergraduate and master's degrees there, he accepted a position on the faculty of Evangel College, Springfield, Missouri, where he taught for the next seventeen years. In the meantime, Stanley completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

In 1960 Ruth Vassar became his wife, and subsequently, the mother of their five children. The oldest, John Bradley, is now a successful businessman in California. The second, Stanley Matthew, is an attorney with Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Arkansas. The third, Scott Vassar, is a robotic surgeon, specializing in urology. The twins, Mandy, a business woman in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Justin David, a Presbyterian minister in Joplin, Missouri, completed the family. Stanley and Ruth now have ten grandchildren, ranging in age from one to fifteen years.

In 1976 both Stanley and Ruth became professors at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), in Springfield, Missouri. Stanley served on their faculties of history and religious studies for the next twenty-eight years. He has taught in India, Singapore, England and the Continent, and was appointed as a consultant to the government of Saudi Arabia. From 1984 onward, Stanley became very active professionally, writing sixteen professional books, including a multi-volume history of the Holy Spirit in various branches of the Christian Church, and three encyclopedias on the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.

In 2004 Ruth and Stanley moved to Virginia, where he was named Distinguished Professor of Christian History at Regent University. Stanley worked with Ph.D. students until his retirement in 2010. Most recently he has completed a documentary history of the Peoples of the Spirit (New York University Press, 2011), and co-edited the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Social Justice (Oxford, 2012).

The family has strong roots in Oklahoma, where Ruth's father was raised (Pawhuska), and where her parents met at Southwestern Bible College (Enid), and later married. His maternal grandparents were homesteaders in Lincoln County, Oklahoma (1907).