Dr. Stan Toler – A Legacy of Leadership (1950-2017)

Southern Nazarene University is mourning the Dr. Stan Tolerloss of a great alumnus, supporter, denominational leader and friend. Dr. Stan Toler, Founding, Executive Director of the Resource Center for Pastoral Leadership at SNU, passed from this earthly life to life eternal with his Lord and Savior on November 18, 2017. Dr. Toler’s journey, as he battled cancer, was not marked by defeat; rather, it was characterized by faith and positivity. Since his initial diagnosis in August 2016, Toler continued to travel, train leaders and preach the gospel with clarity and urgency – as he had done throughout his 53 years in ministry.

In September 2017, Toler spoke to a capacity crowd for Chapel at SNU with an enduring message of deep faith and hope in Christ Jesus. Reflecting on that day and Stan’s testimony of total surrender during his freshman year in college, SNU president, Dr. Keith Newman, said, “Our students heard a dynamic challenge from Romans 12 and this line he wrote in his Bible on that day of surrender: A positive mental attitude without a positive faith will result in a positive failure.” Newman added, “It was vintage Stan Toler...positive, powerful, pastoral and personal. Stan was my friend, a hero of the faith, and, like so many others, I will miss his influence on my life,” he said.

Stan Toler’s relationship and roots with SNU run deep. In 1984, after very successful pastorates in Florida and Ohio, he was elected to serve as lead pastor of Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene. He immediately became a staunch supporter of the university – leading that congregation, as well as Oklahoma City Trinity (1997-2009), to increased financial support, number of students attending, and strong partnerships that continue today through church scholarships, endowments and student ministries established during his tenure. He served the university as a member of the Board of Trustees and, for a time, served as Pastor in Residence through the SNU School of Theology and Ministry. In recognition of his life of ministry and service to the Church, he was inducted, in 2013, into the SNU Hall of Witnesses.

Toler’s lifelong passion for learning and growth led to his earning multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees, including at Southern Nazarene University. In addition, he was awarded numerous honorary degrees. Having distinguished himself as a pastor, District Superintendent (Southwest Oklahoma 2009) and General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene (2009-2013), he was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree by SNU in 2009.

SNU ties within Dr. Toler’s immediate family are strong, as well. Both of Toler’s sons, Seth and Adam, and their spouses, are alumni of SNU. Stan and his wife, Linda, were longtime supporters of the athletic programs and sponsors for many of the concert series for the School of Music. Believing strongly in supporting student scholarships, they were, annually, members of the President’s Circle and regularly supported various mission and ministry initiatives.

In 2013, Toler was named the Founding, Executive Director of the Resource Center for Pastoral Leadership at SNU. Under his leadership, and with his sphere of influence attracting top-tier presenters, the RCPL at SNU quickly became a trusted source for lifelong learning resources for pastors on the SNU region, and beyond.

A prolific writer, Toler authored more than 100 books that have sold over 3 million copies to date. These enduring works continue to be valuable resources for Christians around the world. He loved gospel music and recorded multiple projects through the years, most recently with his brothers, Dr. Mark Hollingsworth (Lead Pastor, Edmond, OK First Nazarene) and Dr. Terry Toler (SNU Vice President for Church Relations), performing across the U.S. as the Toler Brothers.

The Toler family said in a statement, “Stan was always the same person, whether at home or in public – loving, generous, optimistic, full of faith, and caring. We will always miss his sense of humor and contagious passion for life.”

Southern Nazarene University is richer because of the life and investment of Dr. Stan Toler. His passion for equipping pastors will continue at SNU as we honor him through our commitment to educate, train and resource those in ministry. Donations in support of the Resource Center for Pastoral Leadership at SNU can be made online or mailed to: RCPL at SNU, 6729 NW 39th Exp., Bethany, OK 73008.