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Wynn, John Franklin
February 10, 1836 - August 4, 1920
|The ending of the life of a man like the Rev. John F. Wynn deserves more than a passing notice. If one were asked to name the main outstanding characteristic of his life, there would be no hesitation in saying that he was pre-eminently a man of God.
John Franklin Wynn was born in Livingston County, near Athens, Ala., February 10,
1836. He was the sixth of a family of eleven children born to John Henry Wynn and Frances Martha Brownley. Their home was the frequent stopping place for the consecrated itinerants who rode the surrounding circuit. The following incident recorded by him and evidently treasured in his memory, illustrates the vital result of the godly lives and efforts of those pioneers of the church. He says: “When about four years of age, I remember very distinctly that one of these godly men took me upon his knee and talked so kindly with his hand upon my head that I was impressed with the importance of living a Christian life, and felt that I bad rather be a Methodist preacher than any-thing in the world.”
In 1850, at the age of fourteen, he attended the Cambridge Camp Meeting, where his parents regularly went as tenters, going, as he says, determined to seek salvation; and after some days of earnest seeking near the hour of midnight, he realized God’s for giving grace, and at once united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in whose membership he spent seventy faithful years. Up to this time neither of his parents was a member of the church, but the following year, at the same camp ground, and doubtless Inspired by the example of their son, they were both converted and joined the church.
In 1857 he moved to Louisiana, and shortly afterward, in August of the same year, he was
licensed to preach by the late Rev. Lewis A. Reed. The following winter he was received on trial into the Louisiana Conference, thus beginning a ministry of sixty-three years, within its ranks, of which forty-three were spent in the effective list. In 1859 he was admitted into full connection and ordained deacon by Bishop Andrew. In 1861 he was elected to elders’ orders, but on account of the confusion incident to the Civil War, no bishop was present to ordain him, and so his ordination was delayed till near the end of the following Conference year.
In December 1862, he was happily married to Miss Paulina Gorton, of Waterproof, La., who for, nearly fifty-six years was not only a faithful companion to him, but an effective helper in his labors, whose quiet and saintly life did much to add to the success of his work. She preceded him to the better world by about two years.
Of the children born of this marriage, six grew up to mature years and all of these are still living, fulfilling in earnest Christian lives the hopes and prayers of the godly home in which they were reared. Of these Rev. Robert H. Wynn, D.D., is a member of the Louisiana Conference; Mrs. Octavia Rickey is the wife of Rev. H. W. Rickey also of the Louisiana Conference. The others are J. W. Wynn, of Rayne, La., Miss Alice Wynn, of New Orleans, Miss Mary Wynn, of Crowley, and Mrs. E. W. Wall, of Baton Rouge. A sister also survives him, Mrs. Ellen Edwards, of Alexandria, La. Another sister was married to the late Rev. B. F. White and was the mother of Hon. II. H. White, of Alexandria.
The charges served by Brother Wynn were: 1858, Floyd, as junior preacher; 1859, Atchafalaya; 1860, Floyd again, as junior preacher; 1861, Chicot Pass; 1862, Trinity cir-cuit, junior preacher immediately following his marriage at the close of this year, he was stationed at Waterproof, but the county being soon occupied by Federal troops, making it impossible to carry on the work, he was changed to Oakley in Franklin Parish, where he remained for nearly three years. In 1866 he served the Atlanta charge, and in 1867 and 1868 the same charge with Montgomery added; 1871-1874, Rapides circuit; 1875-1878, Columbia; 1879-1880, Washington; 1881-1882, Plaquemine Brulee; 1883-1886, Oak Ridge; 1887-1890, Montgomery; 1891-1894, Pineville; 1895-1896, East Baton Rouge; 1897-1900, East Feliciana. At the close of this year, the forty-third of his active service, he was granted a superannuate relation at his own request, on account of failing health, and spent the last twenty years of his life in Crowley, La. At the ripe age of eighty-four, “having served his generation by the will of God, he fell on sleep.”
A study of the facts behind these simple chronological annals reveals a life rich in piety, abundant in labors, and notable for self-sacrificing fidelity. It is noticeable that in six different charges he remained the full four years allowed by the law of the church, and that, in several instances, he served a second pastorate in the same charge after an interval of a few years. All of these charges, served so faithfully, were inconspicuous and offered scanty financial remuneration; but through all these difficulties there was no complaint, and in spite of them the growing family was educated and prepared for useful life and service. He was never characterized as a preacher of unusual ability and he never occupied prominent places, but wherever he had served, there was left behind the universal and emphatic feeling that he was a man of God. He was pre-eminently a man of prayer. In frequent seasons of private prayer and Bible reading, he waited on the Lord, literally carrying “everything to God in prayer.” His fervent and direct petitions in the homes of his people left a benediction behind them.
Perhaps the best illustration of the genuineness or his work is to be found in his life as a superannuate. This closing period of his life was a constant and spontaneous ministry to human need, and his humble home became a resort for those who needed sympathy or counsel or help. An illustration of his Quiet influence in these days is to be found in the story of a woman, formerly a Roman Catholic, who was converted in a union meeting. When asked what church she wished to join, she said, “I want to join the church Brother Wynn belongs to.”
His own religious experience was deep and satisfying. During his earlier ministry, while pastor at Columbia, his attention was directed to the experience of perfect love, and he earnestly sought and claimed the experience of entire sanctification.
He passed away on August 4, 1920, and was buried on the day following in the Crowley Cemetery with appropriate services conducted by his pastor, Rev. R. W. Tucker, assisted by Revs. B. C. Gunn and A. I. Townsley. Great crowds of his neighbors of every faith and every station assembled in sincere sorrow to offer the last tribute of affection to “Brother Wynn.”
He has left to his family and friends, and companions In the ministry of Jesus Christ, a precious heritage of faith and piety, and has gone on to the blessed and eternal fellowship of those “who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1920, pages 64-65, by. By Rev. W. Winans Drake|
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