Brown, John Marshall


January 25, 1849 - July 16, 1923
John Marshall Brown, son of William Brown and Mary Ann Gibson, was born in Cahawba, Dallas County, Alabama, January 25, 1840, and passed to his reward in Belcher, Louisiana, July 16, 1923, at 11:50 P. M., and was buried in Forest Park Cemetery, Shreveport, Louisiana, July 18, 1923. He joined the M. E. Church, South, in September, 1856, was educated at Centenary Institute, Summerfield, Alabama, was licensed to preach in May, 1860, was married July 2, 1860, to Miss Carrie L. Pruitt, of Summerfield, Alabama. Of this union seven daughters were born, of whom four survive, Mrs. A. G. Wrenn, Shreve-port, Mrs. R. P. Newton, Doyline, Louisiana, Misses Mattie C. and Carrie M. Brown, Belcher, Louisiana. He was married, the second time, August 29, 1882, to Mrs. Virginia Ann Cowner, of Webster Parish. Six children were born of this union, two of who survive, J. M. Brown, Jr., of Belcher, and B. W. Brown, of New York.
He joined the Alabama Conference in December 1860, was ordained deacon in 1865; elder in 1867. He served thirteen years in the Alabama Conference and was transferred to the Louisiana Conference in 1873.
For fifty years Brother Brown was a member of the Louisiana Conference. On account of illness, Brother Brown failed to reach the session of our Conference held in Alexandria in 1921, this being his only absence from roll call in his sixty-three years in the ministry. I cannot recall when I did not know Brother Brown, he being an intimate friend of my father, and I, from my admission into the Louisiana Conference in January, 1888, to the time of his departure, being as intimate with him as was possible between men of such disparity of years. I was his presiding elder twice and it seemed to me as though the order ought to have been reversed, though I never had shown me such deference as a superior officer as was shown by him.
The first appointment served by him in our Conference was Vermillionville, now known as Lafayette, then for forty-six consecutive years be went in and out among us as an itinerant, taking the relation of honor at the session of Conference held by Bishop Kilgo in New Orleans in the latter part of 1918.
It is customary in such sketches to give a list of the appointments served by the subject, but I do not place much emphasis upon the “place where.” It might be interesting to some to run over the list to see how he “stood,” as we always say, a poor way to get the measure of a man. I do not think when the Master Workman calls upon us for our report he will ask, “Where did you work?” but I am strongly impressed that he will make a close inspection of how we worked wherever we were. Measured only by “place where,” Brother Brown would not rank very high in the estimation of folk in general for he never held what might be called the “big” appointments. The fact is that he was bigger than any appointment he ever held. This is not true of some of us. There are instances where a man’s appoint-ment is the biggest thing about him, which is a great pity, both for the man and the place. But, measured by character and real work, I count Brother Brown as one of the really great men of our Conference ---- great in his goodness. There seemed to emanate from him an aroma of righteousness and a man felt that he had to be his best in his presence.
Brother Brown was among the last of a fast-disappearing type, the genuine Methodist itinerant, that man who still believes that Christ is in the church as its Read and Guide, and that his Spirit is still active in its direction, even to the making of appointments! He took his appointment as from God and consequently never had any complaint as to its character or grade. He once said to me, on hearing some young brother make himself manifest after receiving his appointment, that he never had one that was too small for him.
In his preaching, he was worthy of imitation by us younger preachers. He was a great believer in the converting power of edifying preaching. Having none of the gifts of the orator, rather, like Paul, with his presence against him, yet he was one among the most helpful preachers I ever heard. To be this required study, and this lie never ceased to do; to the last he read the best and latest books and got their content. As a result his messages were as fresh as the mountain spring. I shall never forget the freshness of the message that he brought to the Shreveport District Conference that met in Mooringsport in 1920, when he preached at the morning service of the first day on John, 12:31—”Now is the judgment of this world.” Every one there was impressed with its force and helpfulness. He had then been superannuated two years. Since his retirement from active service he did not buy as many books as was his custom, but for years I have been sending him every new book I got, if he did not get it before I did, and especially did I do this since his retirement.
His mental activities continued to the last. He loved to preach and was always ready to do so when able. The last time I had the pleasure of hearing him was the second Sunday in June 1921, when he preached for me both hours that day from Romans, 8: 28-29, in the morning, and Romans, 12:4-5, at night, both being to the edification of his hearers.
He was a tranquil spirit, serene under all circumstances, and as he lived he died. There was no suffering or agonizing pain, no sickness—
“The voice at midnight came;
He started up to hear;
A mortal arrow pierced his frame;
He fell, but felt no fear.
Servant of God, well done!
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter the Master’s joy.”
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1923, pages 90-92, by Briscoe Carter.

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