Rev. James O. Evans


     Rev. James Oliver Evans was born Jan. 27, 1925 in the Wesley Chapel community near Ruston to Walter Scott Evans and Nina Riser Evans. He honorably served as a Staff Sergeant in the US Army in Europe in World War II as a paratrooper in the 82nd and 101st Airborne.  He was married to Dorothy Jordan for 64 years until her death in 2009. After graduating from La. Tech, he taught farming, and later became a welder in the defense industry. In 1955 he entered the ministry, earning a Master of Divinity at Candler School of Theology of Emory University in 1958 while serving as a student pastor of four churches on the Dawsonville Charge in Geogia. He was ordained a deacon in 1956, and elder in 1959. He served churches throughout Louisiana: Mangham, Heflin-Brushwood, St. Mark’s (Monroe), St. Bernard-Arabi (New Orleans), Springhill, St. Luke’s (New Orleans), McGuire (West Monroe), and Wesley Chapel (Ruston). He was a delegate to the World Methodist Council in Hawaii in 1981.  He chaired the Board of Church and Society addressing current moral issues.  The annual conference awarded him the 2004 Sarah Schoeffler Award for outstanding leadership in social concerns.                                                          

     James and Dorothy retired to family property near Ruston in 1988 to establish and cultivate Evans Eden Fruit Farm.  They happily spent 23 years commercially growing peaches, grapes, mayhaws, plums, and bedding plants. His green thumb was legendary. He treasured the glory of rolling acres of peach blossoms each spring.

    James & Dorothy started Epiphany Ministry at Swanson Youth Centers in north Louisiana. He was spiritual director for 65 three-day retreats there and for Kairos Prison Ministry at Winn Prison in Winnfield. They endowed both ministries, and paid for construction of the Evans Eden Bunkhouse at the Wesley Center for Spiritual Renewal.  As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) he was the 2014 Louisiana Advocate of the Year.  At the age of 96 he was still teaching Disciple Bible Study and Sunday school, and supplying pulpits.                                               

    James completed his earthly ministry Feb. 28, 2022 and was buried in Riser Cemetery, Ruston. He is survived by his children: Dr. Marilyn Whitley (Steve Schaffer) of Brentwood, TN; James H. “Jim” Evans (Kathy) of Cedar Park, TX; Rev. Dr. A. Wayne Evans (Renee) of Carencro, LA.; 7 grandchildren: Melanie McConnell Lewing (Cory), Jordan McConnell (Cristina), Lindsey Evans Hoffman (Steve), Rebecca Fuller Lubiejewski (Brian), Nathan Kirk Evans, Benjamin Fuller (Rachel), Joshua Blake Evans; 16 great grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild, and one brother Thomas Evans.   He was preceded in death by his wife Dorothy, his parents, grandson Robert Morris McConnell, Jr. (Michelle), and brothers William, Louis, Walter Scott, Jr., and Fred Melvin Evans.     
     What we do for ourselves, dies with us, but what we do for others, lives on. His was a life well lived.   James wrote four books: Called to Serve, Finding the Way Forward, The Influence of Writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Early Church, and Dogs that Ran with Us.  

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