July 19, 1931 - Jan. 20, 2009
Family and friends gathered January 24, 2009 at Trinity United Methodist Church , Ruston , Louisiana to celebrate the faith, life and ministry of Kirby A. Vining. That Saturday morning at 11:00 a. m., we celebrated Kirby's delightful sense of humor, his love for God and his love for the practice of ministry in the United Methodist tradition. Both laughter and tears are appropriate as we remembered “A Red Headed Faith!”
In the small community of Choudrant, Clarence and Elva Vining give birth to the seventh of their eight children July 19, 1931 , naming him Kirby Ardis Vining. While a seminary student at Perkins School of Theology, Kirby served the Simsboro and Antioch congregations, June 1, 1952 through May 1955. There he met the love of his life, Jackie Lewis. Graduating Perkins, Kirby was assigned as Associate at Monroe , First. On August 10, 1955 , Billy Pomeroy, Monroe , First Senior Pastor, joined Kirby and Jackie at the Antioch Church as they exchanged vows and entered into the covenant of Christian marriage. Three children will grace the Vining home: Karen, Michael, and Alice.
His ministry journey includes Berwick, 1957 – 1962; Leesville, First 1962 – 1966; Slidell, First 1966 – 1971; Minden, First 1971 – 1975; and Aurora 1975 – 1978; Superintendent of the Baton Rouge – Hammond District 1978 – 1982; back again into pastoral ministry at Monroe, First as Senior Pastor 1982 –1986. Centenary College honored Kirby with the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1986. Kirby served as Superintendent of our Baton Rouge – Lafayette District 1986 – 1989. Realignment of District lines places Kirby as Superintendent of the Acadiana District 1989 – 1991; back again into pastoral ministry at Blackwater 1991 – 1994, retiring at the 1994 session of the Louisiana Conference with forty-one years of service in the itinerant ministry of the Church.
Yet retirement does not end ministry for Kirby. At the request of the Louisiana Resident Bishop and Cabinet, Kirby serves three interim appointments: Denham Springs, First; Farmerville; and Tallulah. The death of daughter Karen in a tragic automobile accident “saps” his strength and stamina.
A stroke makes his last years difficult but through it all, Jackie provides the very best of care, discovering the full meaning of these words: “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health… till death do us part!” She keeps the promise witnessed by Billy Pomeroy and others August 10, 1955 . For fifty-three plus years, Jackie encourages, prays and cares for this one who so loved ministry in our United Methodist tradition.
Now with Jackie, Michael, Alice and her husband Kenneth Leatherman and their son Wesley, the Louisiana Conference gives thanks for Kirby's faith, life and witness!
J. Roddy Taylor
|Source: Louisiana Conference Journal, 2009|