F. H. Kerfoot

F. H. Kerfoot

F. H. Kerfoot

F. H. Kerfoot, professor of systematic theology 1887-1899, was born at Berryville, Virginia on August 29, 1847. Following the Civil War, Kerfoot enrolled at Columbian College in Washington, D.C., where he earned both a B.A. and a M.A. in law in three years. Kerfoot then enrolled at Southern to pursue formal ministerial training. His health faltered shortly after matriculating, though, and Kerfoot left school. He later graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary.

Kerfoot pastored several churches before landing at the Strong Place Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York. While there, Kerfoot suffered a terrible injury while attending a lecture by Southern politician John Randolph. The platform that held Kerfoot collapsed. The injury to his spine forced him to resign from the church. In 1887, Kerfoot re-enrolled at Southern. Following a semester as a student, the trustees sought Kerfoot as a professor of systematic theology to aid the ailing Boyce. Kerfoot accepted and soon became the chair of the department. A short time later, Kerfoot prayed for an entire night with a group of friends for physical healing. When the time of prayer ended, Kerfoot stunned the group by rising, casting aside his crutches, and walking home. His illness never returned.

Kerfoot held the theology chair for ten years. During that span, the professor revisited Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology, revising the classic text of his mentor and professor. Following the departure of President Whitsitt, Kerfoot voiced publicly his interest in the Southern presidency. The trustees chose E. Y. Mullins, however, and Kerfoot departed Louisville to become corresponding secretary of the SBC’s Home Mission Board in Atlanta. Two years later, in 1901, Kerfoot passed away, leaving a wife, son, and daughter.

Sources: Leo Crismon, Franklin Howard Kerfoot, in Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists. 2 Vols. Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1958.

Robert R. Kearfott, Kerfoot, Kearfott and Allied Families in America. Published privately by family, 1948.

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