General Superintendent Emeritus Paul G. Cunningham passed from this world to his heavenly home July 18, 2020. He was born on August 27, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois, to Paul and Naomi Cunningham. Paul and Connie Celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in May, 2020.
Dr. Cunningham served 16 years, beginning in 1993, as a General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, traveling internationally, preaching, encouraging and leading pastors, missionaries and congregants around the world. But to MNU Pioneers everywhere, it was Pastor Cunningham’s 30-year tenure as senior pastor of College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas, that endeared him to the campus community that would not be here, if not for his vision.
Dr. Cunningham was a young minister in his first pastorate in the 46-member Olathe Church of the Nazarene in 1964 when the Nazarene denomination voted to start a new college. Convinced that his city of 15,000 residents held the best potential location, Dr. Cunningham approached bank president and civic leader R.R. Osborne with the idea of locating the college here, and MidAmerica opened its doors to its first students in 1968.
Not only did he influence the university’s location, but from 1968 to 1993, Dr. Cunningham served as the spiritual shepherd to students, faculty, staff and many residents of the area. He and his wife, Dr. Connie Cunningham, welcomed students to their home, provided guidance and influenced thousands for Christ. His purpose was so much greater than providing another institution of higher education in the heart of the country. It was, as he said in a thank you video to Nazarene congregations, for the purpose of creating a university with global impact for the Gospel of Christ.
In 2015 MNU bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award to Drs. Paul and Connie Cunningham, creating a video chronicling his life and their work. In 2016, MNU announced it would name its new student center after the couple. The Cunningham Student Center’s groundbreaking is scheduled for August 28, 2020, and construction will begin shortly thereafter.
Dr. Cunningham has been honored with numerous awards from a variety of church and civic organizations, among them The City of Olathe’s Cathedral Builders award for work to establish and support MidAmerica Nazarene University.
A collection of Dr. Cunningham’s sermons is on MNU’s digital repository and is available at https://mnu.whdl.org/collections/dr-paul-cunningham-collection.
Dr. Cunningham was honored to serve as Chaplain for the Olathe Police Department for 23 years. In 1991 he was selected as Citizen of the Year by the Olathe Chamber of Commerce and in 1993 was presented with the quadrennial award for contributions to education by MidAmerica Nazarene University. Also in 1993, Dr. Cunningham was presented with the J. T. Barton Award from the city of Olathe for distinguished service, the city’s highest award.
Dr. Cunningham is a graduate of Olivet Nazarene University and Nazarene Theological Seminary. In 1975, MidAmerica Nazarene University conferred upon him the Doctor of Divinity degree.
He is survived by his wife Connie, children Lori (Dave), Paul Mark (Sheri), Connie Jo (Gary), 7 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, and sister, Joanne Carlson.
A Celebration of Life will be held at College Church of the Nazarene on Sunday, August 30th, at 3:00.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Drs. Paul and Connie Cunningham Scholarship Fund, MidAmerica Nazarene University, 2030 East College Way, Olathe, KS 66062
Please click on the "Share Memories" button above to leave a message for the family.