Norton, Hugo Wilbert

Democratic Republic of Congo

H Wilbert Norton was an American mission educator. Norton was born in Chicago, Illinois, and educated at Wheaton College (B.A., 1936), Columbia Bible College (M.A., 1938; Th.M., 1939), and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (Th.D., 1955). In 1936 he helped to create the Student Foreign Missions Fellowship, which merged with the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in 1945. In 1940 Norton and his wife, Colleen Woodard, went as missionaries with the Evangelical Free Church of America to Tandala, Belgian Congo (now Zaire), where he became founding director of the Bible Institute of the Ubangi. In 1950 Norton moved to Chicago to serve as missions professor and eventually president of Trinity College. In 1965 he began a 15-year term as missions professor, then dean, at the Wheaton College graduate school. He went back to Africa in 1980 to serve as founding principal of the Jos (Nigeria) Theological Seminary. Then he returned to Wheaton in 1983 to direct the Committee to Assist Ministry Education Overseas. In 1989 he went to the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, to establish a doctoral program in missiology. Norton served on the boards of Inter-Varsity and Evangelical Literature Overseas. He was a charter member of the American Society of Missiology and the founding president of the Association of Evangelical Professors of Missions. He published five books on missions and church history.

Joel Carpenter


H. Wilbert Norton, Twenty-five Years in the Ubangi (1947), The Diamond Jubilee Story of the Evangelical Free Church of America (editor; 1959), European Background and History of Evangelical Free Church Foreign Missions (1959, rev. ed., 1964), What’s Gone Wrong with the Harvest? (coauthor with James F. Engel; 1975), and To Stir the Church: A Brief History of the Student Foreign Missions Fellowships, 1936-1986 (1986).

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.