March 28, 1903 - 1966
|If I were asked to summarize the life and work of Adrian M. Serex, the words I would use are found in Paul’s admonition to Timothy, his “son in the ministry”. They are — “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15); and “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (II Timothy 4:7).
Adrian Serex was one of the ablest and most articulate ministers ever to serve Methodism and the Christian Ministry. Born in Claberg, Belgium, March 28, 1903, son of a minister, he attended John Calvin College in Geneva, Switzerland, and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Athenaeum of St. Cues in Brussels, Belgium at the age of 18. During World War I he served as a medical aid on a train in Switzerland, which carried wounded soldiers to their respective countries. After the war he began to consider the various schools in which he might continue his theological training, for he had heard the call to preach the Word of God, and felt the need to train himself as highly as possible. Finally, at the age of 18 years, he immigrated to the United States, and began working on his B. D. Degree at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and in 1923 was admitted on trial into the Louisiana Annual Conference. He received this degree in 1924, then moved on’ to New Orleans where he became associate minister of old First Church. While there, he earned his Master of Arts Degree from Tulane University in 1925, and in 1926 he was admitted into full connection in the Louisiana Annual Conference. It was also while Associate Pastor at First Church, New Orleans, that he met and married Mary Muir Bays. They were united in the holy bonds of matrimony on October 19, 1926. To this union was horn the following children: Henry Muir, Mary Bays, William Dobbs, and Donald Martin. Mary Muir Serex preceded her husband in death, having been transferred to the Church Triumphant June 2, 1961. In 1928 he returned to Belgium as a student at the University of Brussels, where in 1929 he earned the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. In 1926 he was appointed pastor of Second Church in New Orleans, and later served as pastor at New Iberia and Minden. From 1936 to 1942 he was Superintendent of the Shreve-port District. From 1942 to 1952 he served First Church in Monroe — which is the longest pastorate that church has ever had. In 1952 he went to Rayne Memorial Church in New Orleans and stayed there until 1962 when, because of ill health, he was granted sabbatical leave. In 1963 he accepted appoint-ment as pastor of the new Methodist Church in Belle Chasse, where he served until his death. At the same time and for the same period, Dr. Serex served as Chaplain for Touro Infirmary, the Baptist Hospital, and the Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital in New Orleans. In November of 1963 he married the former Emeline Gober Crawford of Prattville and Bay Minette, Alabama.
Those who knew Adrian M. Serex loved and appreciated him. The possessor of a keen mind and an articulate tongue, he was in constant de-mand as preacher, teacher, and lecturer. While at Emory University he was student instructor in French and Greek New Testament. While on the Shreveport District he lectured in philosophy at Centenary College, and taught a course in Philosophy of Religion at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas. The churches that he served were the fortunate recipients of his vast knowledge and facile mind.
While those of us who knew Adrian Serex remember him as a person of deep intellect and as a great preacher, there were other important facets of his life that cannot be passed over. He was a great humanitarian who loved and worked well with people. During World War II, while he was pastor of First Church in Monroe, he had a devotional program which went over a local radio station each night at 10:15. Deigning to tape the program went to the station each night to do the program, and it became a legend in its time. His deep compassion and knowledge of what war can do to the minds of men were blended into the most popular radio program in the area — even at that late hour. People in the City of Monroe and surrounding areas still talk about the good that emanated from these programs. While in Monroe, Dr. Serex also helped found a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, and each year, until his death, he was that group’s honored guest at their annual banquet. He was one who loved people, and who could, because of previous personal experience, have “empathy” for them.
Adrian Serex heeded well the admonition to “study to show thyself ap-proved unto God — a workman with no need for shame”. He attended six colleges and Universities on two continents. His hungry mind was forever searching for the truth; and all during his ministry he continued his quest for knowledge. His great desire was “to know” and “to be”, and to help others along this path. He will be remembered by many of the younger men of the Conference for his work of many years as Chairman of the Board of Ministerial Training and Qualification. In this capacity he was able to guide many young men who sought admission into the Conference, and in this way h1s life touched many lives.
Adrian loved his church and served her well throughout his entire ministry. Bishop Aubrey C. Walton, in his eulogy of Dr. Serex said this: “His going brings to a close a long and rewarding ministry. I have not had an opportunity to check on the lists, but his service record of forty-three years as an active minister in the Louisiana Annual Conference may mean that he possessed the longest record of active years of any man now serving in the Conference.”
On June 10, 1962, he served his last Sunday at Rayne Memorial Church in New Orleans — although he was unable to attend the service. This brought to a close the longest active ministry of any man at that church, and his farewell message to his congregation was printed on the back of his bulletin. It gives more insight to his unselfish and dedicated life than any words of my own ever could. He wrote: “My leaving the pulpit of Rayne Memorial is altogether my loss, not yours. . . .(your new minister) is one of the most gifted and capable ministers in the Conference He has an adorable wife, whom, I am sure, you will love. I commend your new minister to your love and care. Help him in ever-possible way. The ministry at Rayne Memorial is not an easy task. The demands which you make upon your spiritual leader are the most exacting. . . . so, I beseech you to make things as easy as possible for my successor. Rally behind him, work harmoniously with him, and above all else — love him, so that he may be at his best and that the influence and services of Rayne Memorial to this great city may be at their peaks of effec-tiveness and power.”
In addition to the many friends Adrian Serex leaves behind, he is sur-vived by his widow, Mrs. Emeline Gober Serex, three sons, William D. and Donald M. Serex, both of New Orleans, and Henry M. Serex of Sacramento, California; a daughter, Mrs. E. A. Parker of Foster City, California; his step-mother, Mrs. Emily Serex of Montreux, Switzerland; a sister, Mrs. Henri DeWorm of Montreux, a brother, Henri Serex of Shreveport, and four grandchildren.
Adrian Serex is now a member of the Church Eternal. His good influence and wonderful spirit are the part of his immortality he has achieved here. We will remember him as a gentleman, a scholar, and a preacher in the highest tradition. In death he fulfilled the admonition of Paul to Timothy: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
|Source: Annual of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 221-223, 1967 by George W. Harbuck and Luman E. Douglas.|