Pastors' Memoirs

Archer Rudder Turner, 1920-1989

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Archer Rudder Turner was born July 20, 1920 in Clarksville, Va., a son of the Rev. Virginius Rudder and Lelia Ligon Turner. He spent his childhood in Korea where his parents were Methodist missionaries. He received his B.A. degree from Lynchburg College in 1942 and his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University in 1945. He also earned a certificate in Far Eastern Studies from Yale University. 

Archer began his ministry in the Virginia conference in 1945 at Pamplin. In 1946 he married Ethel Lloyd Thomas of Gloucester, who as a bride went with Archer to Yale for training and both were commissioned as missionaries to Korea, where they served four years. Serving the rest of his ministry in the Virginia conference, his appointments were: Gladys, Crittenden-Chuckatuck, Cape Charles, Sherbourne Avenue, Zion-Grace, Urbanna, Toano, associate at Trinity in Alexandria, Ettrick, and Lynnhaven. Archer took disability leave in 1976 and retired in 1986. It was in my first appointment in Lynchburg, Virginia that I got to know Archer. He was a high school student and president of the senior department of Court Street Church. Then in youth camps and summer assemblies I saw in Archer a young person who was capable, conscientious, and committed to the Christian way. Many years later I was fortunate to have him as my associate at Trinity, Alexandria, where he and his family meant much to me as well as the life and ministry of Trinity Church. He was a dedicated, capable, and effectual minister. 

Throughout his ministry, Archer had a helpmate in Ethel. I always felt Ethel was a co-minister with her husband. She was supportive in all of the various aspects of the church's ministry and worked creatively in the youth program. Those were the turbulent '60s and Archer and Ethel understood the concerns of the youth and were skilled in directing their activities so that these would be meaningful to the youth and acceptable to the adults. Rudd, their son of high school age, was an asset in the process. In a remark- able way, the three Turners were a team in ministry through the church. Ethel says she is deeply grateful for the privilege of having participated with Archer in the church's ministry.

For 12 years Archer was not well, but he and Ethel were not defeated by it. It seemed their love and understanding deepened during those days. Service was a motivating power in Archer's life, and he wished to be of service after death which came February 22, 1989. At his request, his body was donated to the Medical College of Hampton Roads in Norfolk, for medical research and education. 

A memorial service was held at Court Street Church, April 2, which proclaimed the character, quality and dedication of this life. George Wesley Jones, who was ordained with Archer in Court Street Church in 1944, gave the eulogy, and a grandson, David Bryant Turner, gave a Scripture reading. The bulletin carried a statement from the family concerning what Court Street Church meant to Archer:

"You gave him roots and wings. He found nurture and challenge in your stately beauty of worship, the study and outreach of your Christian education, and the personal inspiration of your fellowship. ..It was in this sanctuary that Archer was ordained as a Methodist minister. ..That ordination defined his life's meaning and purpose. We rejoice that we shared his love of family and in his life's journey of faith."

Archer is survived by his wife, Ethel Thomas Turner; one son, A. Rudder Turner Jr.; two grandsons, David Bryant Turner and Christopher Lloyd Turner; and three sisters and a brother.

Archer was a "natural" for the Christian ministry and through his life many lives were blessed. He is worthy of the scriptural commendation -"Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of thy Lord." 

-Hampden H. Smith Jr.   

 

 

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