|“It’s like taking in the life of another person.” Lillian Stout fondly recalled Ned’s explanation of his love for reading. Ned’s passion for others and for learning were the hallmarks of his life and ministry.
Ned Lee Stout served for over 40 years as a pastor prior to his “retirement” from the Louisiana Annual Conference in 1983. His years of service in Louisiana were divided fairly evenly between northeast Louisiana, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lake Charles (Ned retired from St. Luke’s-Simpson Church shortly after helping to facilitate the merger of the two congregations).
During his seminary days at Vanderbilt University, Ned served a three-point charge in the Tennessee Annual Conference and upon graduation, was offered appointments in Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia (Lillian’s home state).
Although Ned “grew up” in First Methodist Church, Lake Charles, his first work as a pastor was a short stint as assistant pastor at a Baptist church in Lake Charles – prior to his college and seminary studies. When he was recruited for the job, Ned was assured that “salary was no object” and, as Lillian retold the story, we could almost see Ned’s wry grin and hear him retort, “It wasn’t.”
Ned’s Ingleside years were marked by the same vigor, vision, zest, and joy which God had shared through Ned during his “under appointment years.” What a delight it would be to share those sights and sounds with you: to share the glow of his love for his children and grandchildren; to see him riding his bicycle to church and running in a 5-kilometer race through Baton Rouge; to hear Ned’s “honky-tonk” piano renditions of gospel hymns shared with nursing home residents gathered at Ingleside – to see his body sway, and to watch the piano almost “walk”; to see him hold Virginia Irving’s hand in silence in the nursing home for two hours on the day before his health failed; to discover his Book of Worship open on his desk and to know that even as he sensed death’s approach he was still searching for understanding.
What a joy it has been to “take in the life” of Ned Stout. God’s gift of Ned has blessed us richly. God’s gift of Ned’s life blesses us still.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1997; p. 271 By Timothy E. Lawson|