Pastors' Memoirs

Jack Hall Pettyjohn, 1934 – 2005

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  All baptized Christians are called to be ministers. But some hear and heed the words of Jesus Christ more than others: "Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you have done it unto Me." Such a person was Jack Hall Pettyjohn.

  Born in Southwest Virginia, Jack grew up in Portsmouth and was active in Monumental Methodist Church. His educational journey took him to Randolph-Macon College, Emory School of Theology, Hartford Seminary, and James Madison University. He was involved in Clinical Pastoral Education at Hartford Hospital and the Medical College of Virginia. He served in educational ministries at the following churches: Park Place, Norfolk; Centenary, Lynchburg; Highland Park and Centenary, Richmond; and Central, Staunton. He pastored churches in the Winchester, Harrisonburg, and Staunton Districts, including three predominantly African-American congregations. For 13 years, Jack was a school psychologist in the Augusta County School System.

  Jack saw his ministry in the "Tentmaker" model of the Apostle Paul, and he always found ways to weave together his work as a pastor and psychologist. He was a founder of the Rockingham Memorial Hospital Chaplaincy Program, the Valley Pastoral Counseling, and the Community Mediation Center of Staunton. Concerned about inmates coming out of prisons and jails, he devoted his time to this neglected population, especially juvenile offenders. He started the Valley Transition Center and Ex-Offender Rehabilitation Program, in addition to serving on a Restorative Justice Panel. He was a volunteer group leader and counselor at Augusta County Jail for 14 years. Jack received many tributes and honors in the mental health and restorative justice fields.

  Jack Hall Pettyjohn left this life on Feb. 20, 2005, and is survived by his wife, Christine Snyder Pettyjohn; daughter, Sharon; son, Daniel and his wife, Kathy, and their two sons, David and Ryan.

  Jack Pettyjohn was faithful to the Lord he followed all his life. He paid attention to Jesus’ declaration as to why He had come:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because [God] has anointed Me to bring

good news to the poor, … to let the oppressed go free…." (Luke 4:18)

  It was in his ministry to the marginalized and imprisoned that Jack found the calling that was central. It was in working on behalf of prisoners and ex-offenders that he discovered a passion. While some others of his colleagues were intent on climbing the ecclesiastical corporate ladder, Jack was content to try to bend the small bit of history given him. He had understood well the words of Christ, "I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, …I was a prisoner and you visited Me." And now he has also heard the invitation of King Jesus, "Come, you that are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

— Christine Pettyjohn and Rev. Dick Faris



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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