Monday, January 29, 2007

Joe Lemmons

Yesterday my mother emailed me: “Joe Lemmons died today . . . He was 85. We will pray for them.”

Every person has an unwritten list of names, each entry filled with significance. The name Joe Lemmons is on my list.

When I was born in 1963, my parents were relatively-new Christians. They had come to New Jersey in 1961 when the U. S. Air Force transferred my father there from Alaska.

Soon after they moved to the Garden State, my parents became members of the Church of Christ at New Egypt, New Jersey. I made it to my first Lord’s Day service all of five days old. Joe Lemmons was my first preacher.

Joe and his wife, Lois, were about ten years older than my parents. My father had one older sister, but never any brothers. My mother had no sisters or brothers. So in certain ways, I think, Joe and Lois became some of those older siblings my folks never had before.

Joe was a southerner and a graduate of Harding College. He had come to New Jersey back in the day when places like the Northeast were still seen by a lot of people in the Churches of Christ as a domestic mission field. He prayed to God and nurtured others. He preached sermons, taught classes, conducted personal studies and, of course, an annual Vacation Bible School. (My older sister always thought it was cool that, whenever we sang “Booster, Booster” at VBS, her otherwise-dignified preacher would be transformed into a grouchy rooster). In the field behind our new church house, he played softball with the rest of the congregation.

I was in the second grade when my father was transferred to Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma. When we moved, we said our good-byes to the Lemmons Family and to the church that my family had been a part of for ten years. Joe and Lois stayed in that part of the country for many more years, praying to God, strengthening others, telling the story.

Today I’m praying for Lois Lemmons, for the couple's children, and for all of their extended family. I pray that all of them will be given comfort and peace. I’m also thanking the Lord today; thanking Him for the life of Joe Lemmons.

“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.’” Revelation 14:13


Anonymous said...

Joe Lemmons was an icon to me. No, he wasn't flashy, loud, or over-the-top. He was as steady a human being as I have ever met. I remember him with his "Kennedyesque" good looks, preaching. He was kind, firm, and nurturing. I think the only time I ever saw him break character was when he would frown on "don't be grouchy like a rooster" while leading "Booster, Booster" in VBS. That would send all of us into fits of giggles during the song!
Joe Lemmons was truly a leader. Our church in New Egypt was a group of young families, no elders, and frequent changes due to the amount of military families that worshipped with us. Through every change, Joe remained steadfast in leading our group in God's path. Joe always remained the epitomy of what a man in Christ should be. He set the example for many a young man.
As an adult, I realize all Joe and his family did for our church. When we could not be with our own families on holidays, we went to the basement at the Lemmon's house. Many of my birthday parties were given at the Lemmon's house. Joe and Lois filled in for every event, and shared their home and lives with the ease of a well-oiled machine. You could waltz in the back door of their house, and they always acted like they were expecting you!
The little church in New Egypt, New Jersey was a place where so many of us learned how to love God. Joe taught us with a warmth and skill, that few preachers today can match. I will always remember that smile, wavy hair, and a big firm hand that welcomed many a Christian into a loving assembly. I can only imagine that a larger hand led him to his final home, heaven.
Shari Bellizzi-Davis

Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

Excuse me for a moment, Frank -

Hi, Shari! How are things going in Wellington since Rebecca & Garth left? I know Rebecca still makes some trips back there from time to time in connection with her business, so don't know if you two have seen each other since then, but they loved living there while they did. It was just time to move back "home" so that John could graduate in Celina.

Oh yeah, Frank - this is YOUR blog!

Joe Lemmons sounds like a great man for the Lord and it also sounds like he lived a long, full life for the Lord, too. My mom is 85 and I know her days may not be much longer although she's in excellent health and has a family history of longevity.

Thank you and Shari for sharing your good memories of him. You'll have to do the same for his family to let them know.

Bob Bliss said...

I know that this comment is a little late but I just found your blog. I used to preach for the Randolph Church of Christ and then for the Tabernacle Church of Christ (a total of 27 years) in New Jersey. I knew the Lemmons fairly well. We used to see each other at a lot of the events that took place at NCJC and Manatawny. They were super people and I always enjoyed an opportunity to be with them. Our son worked at Midnight Oil in Searcy (he's at Harding) and often worked at the shop at the hospital. One day he told me of a lady who worked in the gift shop that he frequently talked with who just happened to have lived in New Jersey at one time. It was Lois Lemmons. I was saddened as well to hear of Joe's death but I know that he trusted in the one who died for him so I know we all will see him again one day.

Donna said...

I have fond memories of Joe and Lois. He held Gospel meetings at the congregation in Eagleville, Missouri. When he was the preacher in Chillicothe, my mom had me spend a week with them when Bible school was going on. I enjoyed staying with them and going to VBS, but I also discovered their Book of Knowledge. I think I kept my nose in that set of books during all my spare time while I was there. Somewhere there is a picture of me from that week standing on their porch with Karen and a birthday cake. Our birthdays were close together. Either I was 10 and Karen was 5, or I was 12 and she was 6. I do recall that I was twice her age. I'm 70 now, but recall Joe and Lois very well.