Pastors' Memoirs

Otis L. Jasper, 1900-1986

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Otis L. Jasper was born to Daniel and Martha Jasper on July 16, 1900 at Woodlawn, Virginia. He was confirmed as a member of the Woodlawn Methodist Church at an early age and later served as Sunday school teacher, class leader, and trustee. While serving in these several capacities, he felt that God had called him to preach. That call was confirmed as he served as local pastor. In 1936, he served the Mt. Zion Methodist Church, Hamilton, Loudoun County, Virginia for six months, the very area in which he would later work tirelessly for 38 years. In 1942 he was appointed to the Lincoln Circuit, where he was serving since 1940. After four years of ministerial studies and theology at Morristown College, Tennessee, he was ordained an elder of the Washington Annual Conference of the then Methodist Episcopal Church in May 1944. Otis subsequently studied several semesters in church management at the American University, Washington, D.C.

He was married to Etta Holland who died at an early age. In September of 1950 he married Rachel Rector. Together they raised a daughter and 12 foster children.

His ministry was marked by personal sacrifices and many extra "miles." There was a period when he pastored as many as six congregations. Under his leadership, a number of persons became lay speakers, three of whom are now ordained ministers. He truly loved the church and the Lord of the church. His great concern for each person and his willingness to help whenever and wherever possible, gained for him a place of love and honor in the lives of many.

One of these persons, Mrs. Mary Howard, spoke of him this way: "He was maturity clothed for our sake with a touch of childhood. He was an eagle willing to fly with us sparrows so we could fellowship with him. He was depth appearing to be shallow in order to lead us shallow ones to greater depth. He was both teacher and student, both leader and follower. He was everybody's pastor."

As a preacher, Otis was forthright, doing so with great conviction and compassion. He possessed an unflagging zeal for the work of the church and an indomitable spirit of generosity and good will. He worked hard in the construction of the Grace Annex Church building, thus moving the place of worship from Lincoln to Purcellville where most of the members were and are living. He mirrored the Gospel which he proclaimed. Even when he was physically broken and his memory almost gone, he never lost his charm and graciousness.

His funeral service on January 3, 1987, was indeed the celebration of a faithful and diligent ministry, and of the workings of the grace of God in his life. The words of the hymn do fit very well: "Servant of God, well done! Thy glorious warfare's past; The battle's fought, the race is won, And thou are crowned at last. And still to God salvation cry, Salvation to the Lamb."  

--Melbourne H. Bailey  




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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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