“Students are observant,” Dr. Marty Marriott said. “They see everything you do—how you interact with people in the hallway or the dining commons, how you present yourself in chapel, if you treat people with kindness, if you handle difficulty with backbone and integrity. It’s similar to why a pastor needs to have a good standing in his own household. Your family is watching you.”
Acting as a spiritual example in a visible role is an aspect of leadership Marriott hopes to embrace when he becomes the fifth president of Maranatha during the spring semester. Those who know Marriott well say they expect those watching the new president will approve of what they see.
“He is clearly the man for the hour,” said David Anderson, a Maranatha graduate and assistant pastor for youth and music at Faith Baptist Church of Warren, Michigan.
Marriott, pastor at Faith Baptist since 1997, said he hopes to model a strong and effective personal faith for faculty, staff, administration, board members, alumni, and the rest of the college family as well as for students.
“The president’s role is one of spiritual leadership on every level,” Marriott said. “That comes down to establishing values and convictions on campus, being an example, and giving wise spiritual counsel.”
The 56-year-old Marriott has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1998. He earned undergraduate (1976) and graduate (1977) degrees from Maranatha and was given an honorary doctorate in 2007. His three children all graduated from the college, married Maranatha graduates, and are now in full-time Christian work.
“This is a man who really understands what we’re trying to do—blend the ministry and liberal arts programs and turn out leaders for the cause of Christ,” Board of Trustees chairman Dr. Doug Jackson said. “He is a good preacher with a passion for ministry, but the businessmen on the board really like him as well. He is very bright. When he comes into a room, he can pick out anyone in there and will know a little bit about anything they might be discussing.”
Pastor Tim Rader serves with Marriott on the boards of both Maranatha and the Michigan Association of Christian Schools.
“I would say he is a very balanced person,” Rader said. “He is not afraid to take a stand on issues, but he is very thoughtful about it.”
Marriott’s son David is the pastor of Lakewood Baptist Church, a new work in Delafield, Wisconsin.
“He is a great pastor,” David Marriott said. “If he can replicate himself in other young men who want to be pastors, it would be a service to conservative, independent Baptist churches across America.”
Dr. Marriott’s cordiality will be an asset, but administrative and educational acumen will be required as well. His track record in those areas is a good one.
Marriott took over a church $1.3 million in debt. It is now a thriving, debt-free secure congregation of 500 with a Christian school. Faith Baptist has also planted a church in nearby Shelby Township.
“To borrow a baseball term, I would not characterize myself as a ‘heavy hitter,’ but I hope I am a person who has been consistent in my ministry,” Marriott said. “I also hope that people will see through me how God can, by His grace, use an unlikely person for His glory.”
“I think it’s evident from what’s happened here that he is a very good administrator with a heart for ministry,” Tanis said. “I think he will be an awesome fit at Maranatha.”
Marriott admits to not exactly being an “awesome fit” when he first stepped foot onto campus as a student. He had become a believer in 1973 while enrolled in the University of Cincinnati’s engineering program and transferred to Maranatha in 1974.
“If you would have asked me as a 20-year-old relatively new Christian if I would someday become a college president, I would have said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ ” Marriott said. “I would have been surprised that God could use me for anything.”
God used Marriott to start a new church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1979 and to pastor another church in Pennsylvania before he came to Michigan. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Temple Baptist Theological Seminary in 1979 and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Liberty University in 1990. Marriott is a member of the Baptist World Mission and Independent Fundamental Baptist Association of Michigan boards.
Miriam (Cummins) Marriott is also part of a significant Maranatha connection. Dr. David Cummins, a member of Maranatha’s original Board of Trustees, saw Miriam and her four sisters all graduate from the college. Those five Cummins daughters and their husbands have sent 11 of their children through Maranatha.
Jackson predicted Miriam Marriott will be a significant addition to the college family. “She is very ministry-minded and very much a people person,” Jackson said. “His wife will be a tremendous help.”
David Marriott said he is confident in his father’s ability to successfully guide the college using the same spiritual tools that helped him guide Faith Baptist Church.
“I was in elementary school at the time, but I remember not everything being best-case scenario when we got to Michigan,” Marriott said. “There were several hard years. I know a lot of the reason the church grew is because Dad was faithful and knew how to develop personal relationships with people. He can connect with just about anyone.”