|On November 30th, 1993, at Glenwood Medical Center in West Monroe, Louisiana, Dr. John Marshall Downs finished his course in faith; the strife over, the battle done. Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, John has been granted the victory, the Crown of Life.
John was born October 6, 1953, the only child from the union of Marshall Downs and the late Clarice Downs. Through his parents’ witness and example, John was led to profess faith in Christ and join the then McGuire Methodist Church in 1965. Active in the local church youth group, as well as in youth ministry beyond the bounds of McGuire, John used his gifts in music and faith sharing, always so in a loving, unassuming manner.
Answering God’s call upon his life to enter Christian ministry, John Downs enrolled in Oral Roberts University where he received his B.A. degree. He later received the Master of Divinity degree from Emory University, and more recently had received his Doctor of Ministry degree, also from Emory. While at Emory, John met and later married the former Janie Cobble. Their marriage produced two children, David and Kristen. John and Janie were best friends, as well as marriage partners. More than this, however, Janie was an integral part of John’s ministry.
During the last few years, John’s struggle with cancer and its complications brought this couple close to each other, to their Lord, and to their congregation in Lake Providence. Prior to this John had served faithfully as a pastor in the following congregations: Centenary, Rayne, Munholland (Associate), Lecompte Charge, First United Methodist in West Monroe (Associate), LaCombe, and finally First United Methodist Church in Lake Providence.
At the Service of Death and Resurrection for John Downs on December 2, 1993, at his home church, the sanctuary was filled with Lake Providence members, McGuire members who still claimed John as their own, and with many friends and clergy from across the state. Even in their grief, John’s family led all of us present as with heads held high, and faith strong, we together sang, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
At the time of eulogy, Mrs. Donna Winters, Chairperson of Lake Providence church Administrative Board, spoke eloquently of how John’s ministry had blessed and strengthened his final congregation. Rev. J. Richard Scott-Welch, a longtime friend, and one-time fellow associate pastor at Munholland, spoke of John’s quick wit, as well as his complete devotion to his calling. John had planned the service himself, and it was in its totality a powerful statement of his faith in a never-failing God.
Before departing with her children to relocate in her native South Carolina, Janie Downs addressed the Lake Providence congregation at John’s request. Speaking on John’s behalf, yet with the same deep conviction, Janie encouraged the people to trust the Lord with their whole hearts, to not forget their quiet time with the Lord, to read and study the scriptures regularly, and finally, to know that when one truly seeks the Father, one will find Him. What better parting words for us all! May the Lord grant to us precious memories of His gentle servant, John Marshall Downs.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference 1994, p. 251 By Rev. Richard H. Humphries|