February 12, 1885 - September 13, 1958
|William Beckworth Hollingsworth was born February 12th, 1885 at Wesson, Mississippi and passed to his reward September l3th,1958, at Lacombe, Louisiana. He was interred in the Graham Cemetery, north of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He is survived by his widow, the former Valeda Graham of Vancleave, Mississippi, and three sons, James, William and Warren; one daughter, Louise, and an adopted daughter, Elizabeth. One son, John McDonald was lost in World War II in landings on the French coast. He entered the Mississippi Conference on trial in 1924, transferred to the Louisiana Conference in 1938, superannuated in 1953, but continued to serve churches until June 1958, when his declining health would not permit active participation. In the Mississippi Conference he served charges at Americus, Stillmore, Harrisville, Nebo, Johns, Harleston, and 7th Avenue Church, Meridian. In Louisiana he served at Dubach, Jackson, Pride, Fasher, and finally, Lacombe. These simple statistics depict the physical beginning and end of a man. They do not begin to tell the story of the man as an individual, or a minister of the gospel.
He felt the call to preach at an early age and began preparing for the Episcopalian ministry. The loss of his father caused him to drop out of school in order to help support a widowed mother. During World War I, he competed training at the Second Officer’s Training Camp at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He did not see overseas service before the armistice. For sometime after the war, he worked for the YMCA as an organizer out of headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Later he started farming north of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Eventually, through a series of personal crises, he again reacted to the call, joined the Methodist Church, and was admitted to the Mississippi Conference.
He was a strong believer and practitioner of the practical approach to Christianity and church activities. His way with people was to love them and reason with them over a period of time in an effort to bring them into the fold or to sustain them when they were faltering In the main effort, rather than by emotional pressure. Perhaps the most spectacular forte of this servant, small though he was in stature, was his dogged persistence to continue the fight and stay true to his calling even when the going was roughest. He entered the ministry in the last days of the circuit rider phase and knew what it was to ride a rawboned mustang (his father-in-law had given him) fifteen miles to preach the word. He knew what it was to walk (on occasion) ten miles to hold services. During the depression he knew what it was to leave home for services with only enough food left for the family for breakfast that day — yet he stuck to his vows and continued the fight. It was this ruggedness of character and understanding of the day-to-day problems of his flock that contributed so much to the strong friendships he developed wherever he went. Hearts were lifted, faces shone, and hope was restored when this little man came to visit and to share his experiences with others. His cheerful attitude and unfailing sense of humor were a marked part of his personality.
As he grew older, and began to mature in the service, he began to develop a deep, resonant speaking voice, and gathered a wide fund of knowledge through constant study and a wide range of interests in reading for pleasure. He was in demand as a toastmaster at Kiwanis and similar organizations, he was an active Master Mason, frequently held the post of Chaplain, and for two consecutive years was Department Chaplain of the American Legion in Mississippi.
A humble man, he was constantly awed by the challenge of the job, and the mission that devolved on him — who had (he thought — like Paul) less to offer than many others. Yet, an analysis of his sermons shows a depth of feeling and consciousness of the great heights of human and spiritual experience, and he constantly strived to offer a challenge for the highest attainment and religious experience among his parishioners. He served uncomplainingly, wholeheartedly, with selfless devotion, and did his best to let his service to the community and the people of his churches see in him an example of “walking the second mile”.
On an increasing number of occasions his ability to organize effort, stabilize unsettled situations, and put the church’s affairs on a business-like basis, was brought into play by assigning him to charges where these talents could be readily used. Concurrent with these actions he had a particular ability to stimulate cheerful cooperation among people.
The fact that he was so happy and satisfied that he had been able to play a part in his children’s formal education to the point that they had exceeded his own is a tribute to him as a Christian and as a father.
Of him it can be truly said, “The world is a better place to live in because he came this way.” “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter now into the joys prepared for thee.”
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 208-209, 1959 by His Family.|