Saturday, August 12, 2006

Complete Text: Lester Kennedy Commendation


The man we honor today was born on July 4, 1926 – over 80 years ago at Bassai, Central African Republic. He lived in Africa for 3 ½ years and then came to the United States with his brother, Paul to live with his Aunt in Pennsylvania, while his parents returned to Africa to continue their mission work.
On their second visit to Africa, his father went home to be with the Lord and is buried at Bassai. His mother continued her missionary work until the early 1980’s.

Education for him began with elementary and high school at Willow Grove, PA. His first 2 years of college were at Bob Jones University and then graduation from Taylor University.

Schooling continued with a semester in New York at a medical missionary course followed by seminary training at Grace Theological Seminary graduating Suma Cum Laude with a B.A. MDiv. In 1952.

Before graduating from Grace, he met his bride-to-be and married Lois Virginia Hall on June 16, 1950.

Ordination to the ministry came in 1951, including summer courses at Temple University, followed by completing linguistics training in Oklahoma during that summer. In August 1952, the couple left for France for 9 months of language preparation for their ministry in Africa. With language preparation completed in June 1953, they left for their calling to the C.A.R., faithfully serving the Lord for the next 6 years at M’Baiki, Bozoum and Bellevue.

During these years, three of their five children were born. Judith in France, Lester and Richard in Africa.

In 1963, the family came back to the states to Tennessee to continue the work that God placed upon his heart. For the next four years, he pastured the Limestone Tennessee Grace Brethren Church before returning to the African mission field for another four-year term. His two youngest children, Daniel and Joyce were born during the pastorate in Limestone.

In 1969, God called again and the servant obeyed and moved his family to Buena Vista, Virginia where he became pastor of the First Brethren Church for the next 17 years. It was during these years that God used this seasoned servant to shepherd and pastor a needy congregation and to invest his life also in mentoring young assistant youth pastors as they were beginning their ministry for Christ.
God continued to blessed as the church grew and matured under his leadership.

In 1985, God moved him again. This time it was to begin a work in Fairlawn, Virginia and he continues to pastor there today.

Over the years, this faithful man of God has served willingly in the following District/Fellowship capacities: (formerly Southeast District, now the Blue Ridge Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches)
Moderator of district (6 terms)
Treasurer of district
Secretary of district
Chairman of Ministerium
Treasurer of Bolling Conference Ground
Serving with district camp (Camp Tuk-A-Way for 35 years)
Board of Grace Schools for 15 years

In everything this faithful servant has done in his life, the Lord has been his guiding force. It is through his witness and love of the Lord that many souls have come to Christ as Savior.

When asked about retirement you will hear him say, “the day I cannot get up to the pulpit is the day I will have to quit.”

Recently, the family experienced first hand the grace and blessing of our awesome God when going for a general doctor visit the physician discovered a low heart rate and felt that it would be appropriate for him to see a cardiologist for further evaluation. The cardiac cath revealed a blood clot in one of the main arteries to the heart. The physician was able to remove the clot and place a medicated stent. It was God’s divine intervention that prevented the clot from dislodging causing a heart attack or death.

Indeed, the man we honor today has demonstrated a lifetime of faithful, dedicated service to the Savior whom he loves. May his life and witness inspire and challenge each of us in our ministry to continue to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 36).
Thank you for your godly example to each of us.

Lester Washington Kennedy, Jr., today we honor our Savior as we honor you with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fellowship of Grace Brethren ministers. God Bless you indeed!


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