University of Lynchburg will hold its annual Veterans Day service on November 11 with a sermon by Capt. A. Wayne Riggs ’53, a Navy veteran and minister who devoted his life to promoting social justice and racial equality.
The service will begin at 10 a.m. in Snidow Chapel. Following the sermon, LC student, faculty, staff, and alumni veterans will gather in front the chapel for a photo at 10:45 a.m. After a lunch for LC veterans in the West Room in Drysdale Student Center, Riggs will discuss his 31-year career with the U.S. Navy.
Veterans should reserve seats in the lunch by contacting the Office of Alumni Relations at 434-544-8293 by November 4.
Riggs began his ministry while attending Johnson Bible College, where he practiced sermons while visiting black inmates in the Knox County Jail. This experience prompted him to make social justice and racial equality prominent parts of his diverse 60-year ministry.
He transferred to University of Lynchburg in 1951. His successful work as a student pastor of two small churches in the Blue Ridge Mountains culminated in his ordination by the Virginia Association of Christian Churches upon graduation in May of 1953.
After receiving his Master of Theology degree from Phillips Graduate Theological Seminary in 1957, Riggs entered the U.S. Navy as a chaplain. The Navy sponsored his graduate education in human development with emphasis on psychology, sociology, and theology at Harvard University.
After Harvard, Capt. Riggs trained with marines for one year before departing to Vietnam for 10 months, the only combat duty in his career. He then served on the aircraft carrier Independence, headquartered in Norfolk and deployed to the Mediterranian Sea. Another highlight of his career was his work as command chaplain at Quantico Marine Base, where he also served as chaplain to the FBI Academy. After managing the training for all Navy chaplains for five years, he directed a ministry across 17 shore stations and seven aircraft carriers in the Navy Pacific Fleet. He then served as director of the Naval Chaplains School in Newport, Rhode Island.
When he retired from the Navy in 1988, he received recognition for his service through a personal letter from President Reagan, the Navy Legion of Merit Award, a blessing from Pope John Paul II, a letter of commendation from the Jewish Welfare Board, and a commendation from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
From 1990 until his retirement in 2013, Riggs served as Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church in San Diego. The San Diego City Council, California State Assembly, and California State Senate each recognized his active involvement in addressing issues of social and economic justice, including challenges facing homeless Veterans.
Wayne married Margaret Hawkins in 1959 and they adopted two children, Steven and Rachel. Margaret died in 1988. Wayne then married Vickie Chance in 1989 and adopted her son, Damon, the same year.