Pastors' Memoirs

Ray Redford Jenkins, 1914-1987

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"O For A Faith That Will Not Shrink" was not only the favorite hymn of Ray Redford Jenkins, it was also the theme of his life. He was born December 5, 1914, in Burkeville, Virginia, growing up there and graduating from high school in 1933. He then pursued a number of jobs in which he used his skill and love for machinery.

Ray married Arlene W. Osborne in May 1936, a love relation that would last over a span of 51 years. Born to this couple was a daughter, Ann Gordon, in 1944 and twin sons, Ray Redford, Jr. and Richard Henry, in 1951. He took pride also in his three grandchildren, Sarah and Hunter Guckert, and Rachel Jenkins.

Ray joined the church at the age of 12 and after marrying his beloved wife, became active in the Burkeville United Methodist Church. Later, while living in Manakin, Virginia, he was asked to teach the Men's Bible Class at the Baptist Church. Being an avid reader, he continued to read and found the study of the Bible and books of persons who had dedicated their lives to teaching and preaching inspirational. It was then that he felt his call to preach which led him to exploring numbers of ways that he could attend college and support the family; none of which were possible.

The opportunity did come, however, when the Rev. Frank Blake, knowing of Ray's interest in entering the ministry, recommended him to Dr. Starke Jett, Jr., then the district superintendent of the Farmville District. Ray was appointed to the Prince Edward Charge as an Approved Supply and while serving the three churches he attended Hampden-Sydney College, graduating cum laude in June 1953.

In-October of 1953 he received his second appointment -- the Amelia Charge. While serving it he was a student at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. He received his Master of Divinity degree in 1957.

Other pastorates were Christ, Oakland, and St. Luke's churches in the Richmond District, Mechanicsville, West Hanover, and Mt. Herman churches in the Ashland District, the latter two in retirement.

Ray possessed a love for family, the people he served as pastor, and for all persons in general. His warm and friendly smile and concern easily won for him many friends. He possessed an unusual sensitivity for the needs of those with whom he came in contact. However, the greatest attribute of his life was the faith by which he lived. Whatever task, event, circumstance, or challenge -- he faced it with an undying faith and commitment to his Lord. Truly the hymn sung by his request at the funeral, "O For A Faith That Will Not Shrink," was the theme by which he lived and died. His last months of illness bore this as his testimony.

Funeral services were held May 25, 1987, at St. Luke's Church, Richmond, Virginia, conducted by the Rev. John B. Peters, the Rev. David A. Balcom, and the writer of this memoir. Burial was in Sunset Hills Cemetery, Burkeville, Virginia.

-Henry M. Matthews



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