Hearn, John Elton


February 6, 1899 - July 2, 1979
When word of the death of Rev. J. E. Hearn spread across our Conference, the reaction
was akin to that of David’s upon hearing of the death of Abner: “Do you not know that a
prince and a great man has fallen this day?” (2 Samuel 3:38) For truly a great man and a
prince had fallen in our ranks.
Brother Hearn was born on February 6, 1899. He spent his early life on a family farm in Jackson Parish where his father, George W. Hearn, also ran the Post Office, a general store, and a cotton gin. Brother Hearn’s grandfather, the Reverend Fletcher Hearn, had led a wagon train to that section of Jackson Parish and had stopped to camp at the site of the old Brooklin Church on December 24, 1858. Upon finding the creek water to be good, and wild turkey and deer plentiful in the forests, he decided to settle there instead of going on to Texas. It was here that Brother Hearn spent his early years.
As a young man he attended the business college In Tyler, Texas. Upon graduation he became the bookkeeper and cashier in the Olla State Bank. Here be heard and answered God’s call to the full time ministry.
On October 9, 1920, he married Alta Fordham. To this sacred union were born four children: Dr. John E. Hearn, M.D., of Leesville: Mrs. Marvin (Valeria) Cappell, of New Orleans; Mrs. Herbert H. (Bonnie June) Fisher, of Houston; and, the Rev. Dr. J. Woodrow Hearn, of Baton Rouge. Brother Hearn is survived by his wife and children. He loved his family, was proud of them, and grateful to God for them.
For fifty straight years Brother Hearn received appointments in the Louisiana Conference. Some of the churches he served were The Minden Circuit, Olla, Zachary, Mangham, Delhi, Oak Grove, and Claiborne. For the last twenty-two years, prior to his retirement in 1969, he served as the Treasurer and Statistician of The Louisiana Annual Conference. He held the distinction of serving longer in that office than any other person to date. He was a wise and faithful steward of the economic resources of the Conference, yet he never lost sight of the real reason for the existence of the Church. He always asked his fellow preachers not only about financial affairs, but also, “How many souls have you added to the Kingdom this year?” He continued to serve after his retirement in 1969. He was appointed as pastor of the Antioch Church in the Ruston District, a church located only a short distance from where he grew up. The conference session of June 1979 was the first conference at which his name was not read out for an appointment since he began his ministry. Death came to him on July 2, 1979. His appointment was to the Church Triumphant.
Brother Hearn loved the outdoors. He enjoyed his frequent visits to the golf course, yet his favorite activity was his gardening. It is a blessing to know that on the day of his death, at the age of eighty, he had spent the morning in his garden gathering vegetables.
Funeral services were held on July 4, 1979, at The Grace United Methodist Church in Ruston. The service of celebration was conducted by his Bishop, J. Kenneth Shamblin; his District Superintendent, Robert L. Peyton; his Pastor, James E. Christie; and, a close family friend, Kirby A. Vining.
At the time arrangements were being made for his funeral service his minister son said, “We shall miss him, but there is nothing to regret about Dad’s life. The service tomorrow will be to celebrate with joy God’s creation of a good man whom we were fortunate enough to have and to love for many years.” All of us who were fortunate enough to know and to love Brother Hearn, and who were touched by his deep, sincere, compassionate ministry and life, resound with a hearty “Amen!” Surely a prince and a great man has fallen. We give God gratitude and praise for the time he spent among us.
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, 1980, Pages 166, by Kirby A. Vining

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