Pastors' Memoirs

James W. Rush Sr., 1923-1989

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The Apostle Paul wrote profoundly when he addressed the Corinthian Church: "Therefore, by the mercy of God we do not lose heart. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord, with ourselves as servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, 'let light shine out of darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthern vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Corinthians 4:1, 5-7). 

When I heard once again these magnificent and inspiring words of Scripture at the service of James Wallace Rush Sr., April 6, 1989, I could not help but feel the presence of "Jim" and picture in my mind's eye his warm, broad smile. He was a servant of God who loved the Lord with all his being, and he was a man who loved people above self. 

Jim was born the second of four sons to Dr. Charles C. Rush Sr., and Flossie Grant Rush, March 12,1923 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. His boyhood and youth were tied closely to the McGaheysville community where he lived, attended primary and secondary school, and was a faithful member with his family in the McGaheysville Methodist Church. Following graduation from McGaheysville High School in 1941, he began his college studies as a pre-ministerial student. The Lord's call was strong "Upon his heart." However, World War II caused him to decide to serve his country and he joined the Air Force in the fall of 1942.

During that time God's call to ministry was being experienced by Jim as he worked as a chaplain's aide. Thus, his desire for ordained ministry was rein- forced. Alter the war Jim enrolled in Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, graduating in 1950. It was while he was at Randolph-Macon that he first met his wife to be, Mabel Spence Watson. She had earlier graduated from Union Theological Seminary's School of Christian Education. During the summer of 1954, while a senior at the Duke Theological Seminary, Jim married Mabel who was to be his strong "help mate" in ministry for 35 years. 

God blessed their family with a son, "Jim Jr.," born in 1957. This child brought an even deeper dimension of faith and love to the family. Out of those ties of love, Jim's ministry found special meaning as he served as vice president of the Virginia United Methodist Agency for the Retarded and executive committee member and secretary of the Mental Health and Retardation Board of Virginia Beach. 

Jim Rush's pastoral ministry extended across the Virginia conference from Southside Virginia to Tidewater, from Northern Virginia to Roanoke, and finally back to Tidewater where he concluded his assigned ministry at First United Methodist Church of Hampton in June of 1988. During these years, particularly from 1956 forward, Jim Rush was one of my special friends. He was minister to me and my future wife, Dreanna, while we were teenagers in the Methodist Youth Fellowship in Epworth Church, Norfolk from 1956 through 1960. As teenagers we held him in great respect and always appreciated his sensitivity, attitude of joy, and his infectious smile. There was something about that smile, that gentleness, that love for people that endeared this servant of the Lord to me and many, many others.

On April 3, God called Jim Rush to "that Kingdom not made with hands." Three days later a Service of Death and Resurrection was held at the McGaheysville United Methodist Church. 

The service was conducted by the Rev. Jon S. Stewart, church pastor;

'"Dr. Pat Simon of Lynchburg; and the Rev. L Carl Whitten, Harrrisonburg District superintendent. Burial was in the Mt. Olivet cemetery. Jim is survived by his dear wife Mabel Watson Rush, his beloved son James Wallace Rush Jr., and his three brothers, Dr. Grant

Rush, Charles C. Rush Jr., and Dr. Laird L Rush. We thank God for this Servant of the church through whom "God's Light and Love did Shine!"  

-E. Thomas Murphy Jr.



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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