Tuesday Service Celebrates Life of Dr. Jerry Mosby

Post a Comment » Written on November 29th, 2007     
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BRONX, NY (November 29, 2007) – The sanctuary of Fellowship Covenant Church was filled to overflowing Tuesday for a special Home Going Service of Celebration celebrating the life of Dr. Jerry Mosby, senior pastor of Fellowship Covenant Church, who died at his home on November 18.

A viewing was held from 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday at the church and was followed by an informal time of reflection, prayer and song. The home going service was celebrated at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the church, with burial later in Westchester, New York.

The sanctuary accommodates 350 people, with several dozen individuals crowded into the hallway outside the sanctuary during both services, says Howard Burgoyne, superintendent of the East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC).

Flag ceremonyPastors and other Covenant leaders, including three conference superintendents, came from across the country to honor their friend and colleague who helped pioneer the transformation of the denomination into a multiethnic body. They joined members of Fellowship Covenant as well as those from other congregations throughout New York City.

Fifty pastors representing 65 churches in the East Coast Conference wore their robes as they processed into the sanctuary during the Tuesday service, says Burgoyne. The processional is a tradition of the conference during funerals for pastors who die while serving a church.

Among the speakers were Donn Engebretson, ECC executive vice president, and David Kersten, executive minister of the Department of the Ordered Ministry. A special letter of tribute from ECC President Glenn Palmberg was read. Engebretson then reflected on the Apostle Paul’s comments in Ephesians 4 concerning the distribution of spiritual gifts among God’s people, including the gift of being a pastor.

“We need pastors so that the body of Christ may be built up, in order that we may all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ,” Engebretson said. “Dr. Jerry Mosby was just such a pastor.”

Engebretson added that Mosby was “strong, caring, bold, direct, forthright, gentle, a friend to all, an encourager, a man who always knew that it was always, all the time, in every situation, all about Jesus.”

choirThe way in which Mosby faced his serious health issues that eventually led to dialysis and amputation of one leg inspired others around him, Engebretson observed. “He was honest – deeply honest – and reflective about his incredible struggles. Like the psalmist, he had the courage to speak his pain – he acknowledged his pain. But he also knew, all the time, that his strength was in Jesus, that there was power to overcome in Jesus, and in every conversation, no matter how painful and difficult the things he told me, he always, always told me, ‘God is so good to me. I am so blessed.’ To me you see, some of the times when I needed encouragement the most, Dr. Mosby was always a pastor.”

The Tuesday service “was a mixture of lament and hope, which is the rhythm of the gospel,” says Burgoyne. “The congregation praised God through their struggle and prayed through their sorrow – Jerry taught them that.”

Mosby taught the entire denomination how to reach out to others, Burgoyne says. He and his close friend, pastor Willie Jemison, former pastor of Oakdale Covenant Church in Chicago, each led the revival of churches that were dying due to Anglo members moving from the city to suburbs, Burgoyne noted. During his time at Fellowship Covenant, the congregation increased from 15 members to some 1,600 congregants, according to local church records.

Mosby also was the first president of the denomination’s African American Ministers Association (AAMA). “He was the one who had a vision for the pastors coming into the Covenant to get together to talk about this new life we were entering into,” AAMA’s current president Catherine Gilliard, said last week.

To read a previously published story that details some of Mosby’s life and ministry, please see “A Life Well Lived.”

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