Pastors' Memoirs

James Leonard Blankenship, Jr., 1905-1987

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James Leonard Blankenship Jr. was born in Richmond, Va., May 15, 1905. He died July 24, 1987, after 73 years as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, 54 of them in the ministry of Christ's church.

Jimmie marked the beginning of his pilgrimage as Christian and minister by three early milestones. At the age of 7 in a meeting at the Full Gospel Mission in downtown Richmond he, in his own words, "felt a warm glow as if the arms of Christ were around my frail body." He dated his spiritual birth from this early experience which he never forgot. Two years later under the preaching of his uncle, the Rev. C.E. Blankenship, he confirmed the earlier experience in a public confession of faith. At about age 16, under the influence of Dr. W. Asbury Christian, then his pastor at Union Station Church, Richmond, he resolved to give his life to the ministry. This resolve, however, was not to be realized for several years during which he worked in a number of secular jobs. At the age of 21, again at the urging of his uncle, he entered what was then Ferrum Training School to continue his interrupted schooling and two years later received from Ferrum his high school diploma. His education continued at the University of Richmond, Randolph-Macon College and Union Theological Seminary.

In 1935 he received his local preacher's license and after serving six supply years became a member of the conference in 1941. He served 12 appointments in the Virginia conference during 35 active years and retired in 1970, after which he served one additional year as a retired supply.

In 1933, while a student at the University of Richmond, he married Mary Emma Collins who, after 27 years of loving partnership, died in 1960. They had three children, Mary Eleanor, Jane Elizabeth and Warren Candler. In 1961 he married Virginia Page Bush who shared his life and ministry with love and devotion until his death.

Jimmie served his appointments with zeal and fidelity. His commitment to his Lord and the church was total. His sermons were always scriptural; his worship services dignified and liturgically sound. He was a loyal supporter of the program of the church and he took personal pride in seeing to it that his congregations were well informed in the history and mission of the (then) Methodist Church.

His retirement years were happily filled with his roses, his long-time hobby of model railroads and his continuing study. But the three great loves of his life were his Lord, his family and his church, and he gave his life fully to all three. Surely he was welcomed to heaven with the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

--William A. Wright. Jr.



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