Joe Stowell Cornerstone University
Joe Stowell announces that he'll step down as president of Cornerstone University in a video released today.

Joe Stowell to Step Down as President of Cornerstone University

By Julie Roys

Cornerstone University today announced that Joe Stowell will be stepping down as president of the university in May 2021 and will subsequently serve as president emeritus.

“Our gratitude for Dr. Stowell’s* 13 years of leadership is immeasurable,” said Carole Bos, Chairman of Cornerstone University’s Board of Trustees, in a statement sent to The Roys Report. “He has enriched the Cornerstone community and the West Michigan community in so many ways. We are delighted to have him continue his support of the ongoing success of Cornerstone University as President Emeritus.”

In a video released to some within the Cornerstone community, Stowell said his decision to step down was based on “a growing sense that our time at Cornerstone was coming to a close.”

Stowell, a graduate of Cedarville University who also served as president of the Moody Bible Institute from 1987—2005, said he will cherish his 12 years as president of Cornerstone.

“This has been a wonderful season for Martie and for me, actually a surprise season,” Stowell said. “After Moody, I had no dreams that God would call me back into this opportunity and it’s been very special.”

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Video Announcement by Joe Stowell and Carole Bos:

Today marks the second time Stowell has announced he would step down as president of Cornerstone. In November 2017, Stowell announced his intentions to finish his term as president in May 2019 and then become chancellor of the school.

However, according to VP for University Advancement Bob Sack, Stowell changed his mind several months after the 2017 announcement. And in the Spring 2018, Stowell decided to delay his retirement indefinitely.

Sack said that at the time, Cornerstone had just received a key lead gift for a new science building, and Stowell was “greatly excited and buoyed by the opportunity to drive the fundraising” for the building.

That building—the $15.5 million Jack and Mary De Witt Center for Science and Technology—opened in January 2019.

During Stowell’s tenure, Cornerstone also has added about $25 million in other new campus buildings and improvements. These include a new broadcast facility for WCSG Radio, baseball field, and a new chapel building.

“We are unbelievably grateful,” Bos told Stowell. “When I think about the campus now compared to when I came here first some years ago, it looks completely different, thanks to you.” 

Bos said Stowell will continue to be involved at Cornerstone as president emeritus, helping with fundraising and giving advice and counsel.

Bos added that the board is “moving quickly forward” and hopes to form a search committee for a new president in November or December. She said by spring, the board hopes to have some good candidates for the position.

Stowell has had a long a long and distinguished career. In addition to his positions as president of Cornerstone and Moody, he’s also published more than 20 books and serves on the board of Cure International.

Stowell also served for three years as a teaching pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel where two of his sons also served as pastors. Stowell and both his sons left Harvest in 2008 within six months of each other.

Stowell has never spoken publicly about his reasons for leaving Harvest. However, at the height of my investigation on Harvest and its former pastor, James MacDonald, Stowell’s son, Matt Stowell, wrote a open letter, detailing the “toxic,” “unholy,” and “dangerous” culture at Harvest.

Stowell, who’s 76, said he has no intentions of taking a position elsewhere after stepping down as Cornerstone president.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “Like I’m not going to be the head cowboy of another rodeo, you know. That’s it for me.”

*Joe Stowell has an honorary doctorate from The Master’s College.

CORRECTION: An earlier version incorrectly stated that Stowell was a graduate of Cornerstone.

Statement from Cornerstone University:

Cornerstone Statement


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10 thoughts on “Joe Stowell to Step Down as President of Cornerstone University”

  1. I wish Joseph Stowell well. He provided good leadership to the organizations he was responsible for, with none of the controversy we often see now, and without the “celebrity” mindset.

    Perhaps he can mentor younger leaders, many of them certainly need guidance.

  2. May the Lord bless Pastor Joseph Stole! I was an attending member of Harvest Bible Chapel, when Pastor Stole was there. His ministry to the congregation, and to me personally was a tremendous blessing and I was really saddened when he announced he was going to leave. I thoroughly enjoyed his time with us. He was kind, patient, friendly, and approachable. For some strange reason, he included me briefly in a worship service and asked me, how do you know how to treat an enemy, and let me finish the sentence, which I answered by saying, unless you have one! I wish I could see him just one more time again, although he probably wouldn’t remember me, but I would still love to see him, talk with him a little bit, and shake his hand.

  3. Moody was never the same after he left nor were the pastors conferences. He had a wonderful, warm way of connecting with everyone.

  4. The irony of the two Roys Reports of today is striking. Two articles about well known Pastors, but each article completely different. One was about a man of God, and the other about a man of god. Stowell truly was a man of God and the world, and those whose paths he crossed (like me) are better off because of him.

    1. I was tired tonight and wanted to look up Joe Stowell because he always lifted my spirits as a student at Moody. Just seeing him makes me smile and encourages me to keep running the race to the end. He’s one of the good ones.

  5. Hi Julie, keep publishing stories of men and women who finish the Christian race well. When I first saw the headline I thought oh no what did he do! I am so grateful it had a happy ending. In these times we really need the positive ms.

  6. I attended Moody when he was President and it changed my life. My sister came to visit me and attended a chapel where Joe gave the Gospel message. At that chapel she gave her life to Christ! Later I became a pastor at Grand Rapids and my church set up a meeting with Joe to glean some advice and he actually took the time out to have lunch with a small town pastor. All I could do is thank him for the huge influence he had on my life. I thank God for Joe Stowell, he has made me a better person and pastor!

  7. I think a little less of Cornerstone upon seeing that they are willing to label an academic administrator “Dr.” who did not earn a doctorate. Maybe not as bad as RZIM, and definitely not as bad as people like David Barton and Kent Hovind, but still …

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