Pastors' Memoirs

John Sterling Kellington, 1919-1986

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John Sterling Kellington (January 12, 1919 -October 23, 1986) was born in Marneroneck, New York, to Alfred Frank and Mary Higham Kellington. It was Sunday morning and nearby church bells were ringing. John was a direct descendent of John Hancock. Also the direct descendent of John deKellington, his son Thomas, and grandson Alexander, who were the first three rectors of Kellington Church, Kellington, England, from 1185 through 1239.

John was raised in the Episcopal Church. John spent much of his childhood aboard ship and in England with his mother and grandmother. It was his grandmother who cultivated his love for books. John was an excellent poet.

The family moved to Deep Creek, Virginia, when John was 13. He loved the Dismal Swamp where he hunted, fished, and trapped daily. John was an excellent swimmer and a crack shot. He once shot an apple off his grandmother's head with a .22 rifle. After meeting Elsie Lee Bland in 1936 while attending Deep Creek High School, they were married in 1940. While serving as a Sunday school teacher and working with their youth of Deep Creek Methodist Church, John decided to enter the ministry. He first completed an apprenticeship as a shipfitter.

John served his first church as a student pastor while attending William and Mary College. Morrison Methodist Church had a handful of members in an old wooden building. Three years later, John moved to Toano, having built a strong congregation and a beautiful brick church at Morrison. The Toano Charge, Mount Vernon and Tabernacle, were John's favorite assignment. He also served the New Church Charge, Berea, Pittsville, Atlantic and Wattsville; the Pembroke Charge, Pembroke, and Hogges Chapel; Shady Grove at Ellison; Henderson on the Northern Neck; Cape Charles; the McDowell Charge, McDowell, Totten, Doe Hill and McKendree; Buckroe Beach; and Basic.

John was ordained deacon on October 17, 1951, and elder on June 15, 1955. Noted for his excellent speaking ability and his formal Episcopal-styled church services, he brought many people into church. His sermons were short but factual. His favorite hymn was "The Church is One Foundation," his favorite speaker, Fulton J. Sheen, and he most admired Mother Teresa.

John was a wise counselor whose advice was sought after by members of many denominations in all walks of life. He loved to work with the down-trodden, slowly and patiently restoring them to a happy and purposeful life. He often quoted Jesus saying, "It is not the well, but the sick who need a physician."

After retiring in 1973, John and Elsie continued their ministry through Christian Manor, a Christ-centered, health-care facility. After selling Christian Manor in 1982 due to health reasons, John continued to minister to the community of Waynesboro in the local coffee shop until his death on October 23, 1986.

On Sunday morning, December 21, 1986, from the pulpit of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, where Joseph and Cheryl Kellington are members, an announcement was read: "John Sterling Kellington, II was born today."

Surviving in addition to his wife, Elsie, are two sons, John Wesley and Joseph Andrew; one daughter, Catherine Anna; two grandsons, John Wesley, Jr., and John Sterling, II; four granddaughters, Heather Lynne, Carrie Anne, Laurie Lee, and Mary Catherine; and seven step-grandchildren.  

--John Wesley Kellington  

 

 

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