|In 1978, Stephen was recommended by the charge conference of First United Methodist Church in West Monroe as a candidate for ministry, was licensed to preach and went off to seminary at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, MO. He was 27 when he finished seminary. In sixteen years he served five charges and eleven congregations: Olla, Tullos, Marksville, Oak Grove, Simmesport, Downsville, Bethel, Mt. Nebo, Berwick and since April of 1993, Kilbourne and Locust Grove.
Like all of us he did not know how long he had to serve. But he gave his best to every charge. Stephen was a faithful pastor to his flock. If a member was in the hospital, in Oak Grove, Delhi, Monroe, Jackson or Shreveport, Stephen was there. I expect Stephen put as many miles on his car as any Methodist preacher in the Conference . . . as he went back and forth on hospital visits. He understood himself to be part of God’s healing process. . . with his interest, concern, and love, with his sharing of the Scriptures and sharing in prayer, somehow new channels were opened for God’s grace to move. He was a faithful pastor.
Stephen was committed to the Sunday School. He understood that was the way you grow a church. He had a vision of what the congregations could become. He was a teacher of teachers... equipping the laity to be effective teachers, counselors, mentors for children and youth.
Stephen was a life-long student. He attended every seminar and workshop he could, seeking ways to improve himself and to continue growing. In every seminar he entered in with his quick mind and self confidence. . . to ask a question, or to share a thought, or at times to challenge the leader.
Stephen was a preacher. He was called to preach. He loved to preach. His sermons were full of the Bible. He lived with his Bible all week long. He never wearied in sharing its rich treasurers from the pulpit. He saw that time on Sunday morning as an opportunity to preach the word.. . not to tell amusing stories, not to follow fads or fancies, not to share his opinion on this or that. His call was to proclaim the Word of God for his people in that hour.
We are a better people for his living in our midst. He had a brief sixteen years in ministry, but he made the most of those years. He had a brief life, 43 years, but many lives were touched and changed. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and two sons, Benjamin and Luke. All who know him thank God for his life, his ministry, his witness, his love.
As he sang in the words of Charles Wesley at the opening of almost a score of Annual Conferences: “Let us take up the cross till we the crown obtain and gladly reckon all things loss so we may Jesus gain.”
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference 1996, p. 272, By Dr. J. Philip Woodland|