|On November 26, 1985 the earthly life of Razzie Ray Branton ended after 93 years of faithful service. Born on a farm in Marion County, Mississippi, 1892, to Mary Dale and William Joseph Branton, he was one of eight children. His father died while he was an adolescent and running the family farm became his only brother’s responsibility. The discipline of hard farm work characterized his entire life. His schooling was limited but his natural ability enabled him to pass the county teacher’s examinations and to teach in county schools near his home. During World War 1, he enlisted and served for two years, returning after his discharge to the family farm.
In his childhood his father helped organize and build the Hathorn Methodist Church. Association with the ministers of this church influenced the call to the ministry. Without a valid high school credit he enrolled at the age of 31 in Millsaps College in Jackson, after passing examinations. His experience at Millsaps was the turning point of his life since it opened doors of opportunity that shaped the remainder of his days. It was also at Millsaps that he met Doris Alford who later became his wife. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Millsaps in 1927, and his Divinity degree from Duke University Divinity School in 1930.
At the1930 session of the Louisiana Annual Conference, he was ordained and received his first appointment. The charges he served were Newellton, St. Mark’s in New Orleans, First Church in Natchitoches, Istrouma in Baton Rouge, Trinity in Ruston, and First Church in Lafayette. After retirement he served Ebenezer and Ivanhoe in Lafayette. As a pastor he carried out the program of the church in a consistently diligent and caring fashion. Every church he served grew in membership and participation. His business acumen enabled him to help his congregations to achieve financial stability. His concern for the children, the aged, the sick and the needy a true shepherd.
His best loved work was securing property for newly organized churches. During his terms as District Superintendent of the Alexandria and Lafayette Districts he was instrumental in acquiring property for and, in some cases organizing the following churches: Trinity, Wesley and Horseshoe Drive all in Alexandria; Asbury in Lafayette; Krotz Springs; Bayou Vista; Raceland; Grand Isle and Houma Heights. Land he secured in Lafayette was later sold to acquire land for the church of the Covenant and a new church yet to be begun.
He was ever appreciative of the esteem shown to him by his fellow minister who elected him five times to Jurisdictional Conferences and once as first alternate to General Conference.
At the time of our marriage I had never heard my husband preach so it was with some trepidation that I attended my first service at the Newellton Church. I was proud of him that day as he proclaimed the word and in almost 54 years of our marriage I never had cause to cease being proud. His preaching reflected diligent preparation, sound theology and deep conviction of faith.
His abiding love for God and the church was also extended toward his family. Two daughters, Mary Dale and Rachael Lee, preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife, Doris, two sons, Louis Ray and William Hardy and by five grandchildren.
One of the hymns he chose to be sung at his memorial service concludes,
“In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I love thee, Lord Jesus, ‘tis now.”
His song continues.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1986; p.271-272 By Doris A. Branton|