Pastors' Memoirs

Benton Theophilus Leonard, 1900-1988

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We first met B.T. Leonard when he returned regularly for the homecomings at Willis United Methodist Church. He had served the church as part of a five-point circuit many years before. B. T. came back because he loved the people and they loved him. B.T.'s daughter said of her father, "Daddy may not have been the best preacher in the world, but he helped a lot of people." This statement by one who knew him and loved him was borne out by others. Perhaps his own philosophy was stated best as he told a young minister, "If you preach the Word and love your people, you'll get along fine." A statement by his pastor at his funeral describes B. T .'s life and ministry well, "He was a wonderful caring and loving person that passionately preached the Word of God and wonderfully loved everyone." B. T. Leonard was born May 14, 1900 in Sussex County, Virginia. He was one of 13 children born to James Thomas and Maggie Johns Belsches Leonard. B. T. was forced to drop out of school to help on the farm. He felt the call to preach while still in his teens. He was encouraged by a Sunday school teacher in Salem Church in Prince George County, where he was a member. She was instrumental in getting him enrolled in Ferrum Training School where, as he often said, he lived out of the "Mission Barrel" for four years. He entered Randolph-Macon College in 1924. In 1926 he was appointed student pastor of the West Goochland Circuit. He graduated from Randolph-Macon in 1929. He was ordained deacon in 1928 and an elder in 1931. While a student at Ferrum, B. T. met Miss Georgie Kate Moore. They were married in 1927. They had four children. Mrs. Leonard was a loving wife and mother, who was also a great help to her husband in his work. B. T. served a number of churches in the conference during the 41 years he was an active minister. He touched many lives during his long ministry, but he mentioned especially the fact that a young man felt the call to the ministry while he was serving Ettrick Church. B. T. was forced to retire in 1967 because of failing eyesight. He lived in Jarrett until he moved to the Hermitage in Richmond. B. T. 's funeral was conducted March 2, 1988 by the Rev. Larry Davies and the Rev. Paul Best. He was buried in Southampton Memorial Park in Prince George County. It was most appropriate that B.T.'s grandson sang: "Servant of God well done! Thy glorious warfare's past; The battle's fought, the race is won, and thou art crowned at last. With saints enthroned on high, Thou dost thy Lord proclaim. And still to God salvation cry, Salvation to the Lamb!" We thank God for a good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ.

Henry B. Sudduth

 

 

 

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