Pastors' Memoirs

Samuel Allen Stanley Jr., 1922 – 2006

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Samuel Allen Stanley Jr. was born in Roanoke on Sept. 4, 1922. He was raised in Melrose Methodist Church in Roanoke and received a Bachelor of Arts from Roanoke College and Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Divinity degrees from Emory University. At 15 he gave his life to full-time Christian service while attending a youth conference at Massanetta Springs. He spent his last five years at a related retirement home.

He was ordained as deacon of the Methodist Church in 1945 and as elder in 1947 and served nine appointments in the Virginia Conference, each with great joy and dedication: Cambria Charge, Pembroke Charge, Woodlawn (Roanoke), McKendree (Norfolk), Providence (Richmond), St. John’s (Staunton), Graham Road (Falls Church), First (Hampton), and Walker Chapel from which he retired in 1990. After retirement he served as pastor of visitation for Providence and Bon Air churches (Richmond).

He served on the Commission on Worship for the conference and the Southeastern Jurisdiction. He served on the Board of Ministry, the Board for the Children’s Home, the Staunton/Augusta County Mental Health Board and the Board of Wesley Housing Development in Northern Virginia. He also enjoyed the opportunity of teaching youth and adults in Christian Workers’ Schools across the conference.

He was passionate in his leading of worship, always attempting to make it vibrant and meaningful — and in his pastoral care of the congregations he served. In her book, "From Gung-Ho to Godbearer," Kenda Creasy Dean writes "My supervising pastor in seminary was a seasoned Southern parson named Sam Stanley. Sam pastored a little chapel in Arlington and people packed it to the gills every Sunday.

You could easily underestimate Sam because of his laid-back style and bone-deep gentility. He wore his considerable clout like an undershirt, unconscious of it. Yet Sam was both the strongest and most subtle pastor I have ever known. Despite his determined opinions, he seldom spoke at meetings. He made himself available for appointments or counseling or coffee. He was an ace preacher; worship was memorable and moving…. ‘There’s really only time for two things in ministry,’ he drawled one afternoon as we zipped around the beltway to ‘check in’ — without warning — on the fifth or sixth person that afternoon. ‘Lead a fine worship. Visit the people. The program, leave to volunteers and gung-ho seminarians.’ Sam took great joy in working with seven seminarians from Wesley Seminary."

Some of his favorite memories were working with the choir to produce the folk mass Blowin’ in the Wind, participating in a variety show in which he got to play Al Jolson, and going with a youth mission group to Austria for three weeks. He loved literature, the theater, music, art and movies.

He married Ruth Smith in 1946. They had five children, Samuel III, Debra Leap, Mark, Timothy, Martha Jones, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A quote from John Donne attached to his prayer desk reads "I will not live until I have seen God and when I have seen Him, I shall never die."

— Ruth Stanley and Debra Leap




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