|He served me as a child. I was a child in the Hartzell Church of the Slidell circuit when a medium height dark skinned man came to serve us as pastor. I remember the people in the congregation saying that the parsonage was full of children. It was, and how J. W. loved those children. I also remember J. W’s never ending sense of humor and how he always would sneak a joke in here or there and laugh with everyone else while they were laughing . I was a child in my grandparents’ home and when sickness came upon them, there was J. W. coming to visit and offer encouragement. Not only was he a pastor, but he was also a teacher who worked with Sunday school and I still remember the songs he taught us in Vacation Bible School. He served us for three years before leaving to go to Mansfield.
Our paths went in different ways as J. W. had various appointments (St. Matthews, Algiers, Asbury and Natchitoches) until 1971. That year I went to the office of the Baton Rouge District Superintendent to discuss the possibility of receiving an appointment in Baton Rouge. J. W. was warm, courteous and straightforward as he discussed with me the possibilities, but concluded by saying he was not sure of much of anything. You see, that was the year of the merger and J. W. left the office of District Superintendent to become Associate Conference Treasurer and Secretary of the Board of Pensions. After that appointment he served Peck, Hartzell, and Williams churches in New Orleans before retiring in 1980. Even in retirement he continued to serve, serving Calvary-Magnolia, Asbury-Trinity and St. Paul-St. James.
In 1986, J. W. called me and said, “Avery, I am coming to be with you at Neely.” It was a joy to have him around. He was helpful, supportive, full of life, and never lost his sense of humor. When his car broke down, I would pick him up and take him back home. You could see age breaking his body. I remember him asking me one Sunday, “Boy, why do you preach so hard?...and you do it all the time!” J. W. already knew the answer for he smiled and nodded as I said, “I just guess it is in me.”
J. W. asked me to marry him to Adell and I must say that she loved and cared for him in his sickness. J. W’s children came and took him to California in the hopes of getting better medical care. It was there with those children that he loved so much, he died on October 30, 1991. Yes, he served me as a child and I served him in his old age.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference 1992, p. 227 By Donald Avery|