He was acquainted with deprivation and disappointment, but the smile on his face told another story. It spoke of perseverance, determination, imagination, education, good judgment and loving others as he loved himself.
James B. Chapman for 60 years was one of the best friends I ever had – my, colleague and counselor. Most people knew him as “Jim”, a trusted friend.
We met during graduate school days. When Kitty and I returned to Anderson, IN, for me to begin work with the Christian Brotherhood Hour, we moved into the house where Jim Chapman had lived.
I, and hundreds of others, often turned to Jim for advice about many things – missions, the church, financial matters and what was going on in the world and our nation. He had successfully served as a missionary, pastor, educator, businessman and financial advisor. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Warner Southern University in Lake Wales, Florida, from its beginning and for more than 30 years.
James Blake Chapman was born on September 14, 1932, and died on July 25, 2013. Both events took place in Saltville, Virginia, an area of beauty whose people he loved and where people loved him. His 81 years were filled with accomplishments that brought rich blessings to his hometown, his family and his church to the uttermost parts of the world.
His last months were described in St. Paul’s second letter to the church of God in Corinth. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (4:16 NIV).
Pastor Kenny Howard led the funeral service at 7:00 on Sunday evening, July 28, 2013, in the First Church of God, at Allison Gap in Saltville, Virginia, surrounded by majestic mountains and the beauty of that historic area.
Attending and speaking briefly was Dr. Ron Duncan, General Director of the Church of God, accompanied by his wife, Martha. Also attending were such national leaders as Dewayne Repass, Chief Development Officer; Ken Hatch, Chief Legal Officer; Kirk Bookout, Stewardship Consultant; and pastors of the area. Internationally known pastoral leaders and musicians Larry and Che-Che Mobley provided special music. Family members spoke of their great love and appreciation for their tremendous example in life.
In his major address, Pastor Howard, reminded us of superb characteristics of Jim’s life that made him so very important to his family, church and friends. He underscored the fact that Jim Chapman was a pastor, a man of honor, a mentor, humorist, a man who deeply loved his wife, Carol, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, his siblings and neighbors,. It was my honor to also be asked to speak about this outstanding servant of Christ.
Jim was 80, when at the Cove, The Billy Graham Training Center, Asheville, NC, he had a stroke in October 2012. He was a strong supporter of missions, colleges and seminaries. At the time of his death, he was a charter member of the Church of God Foundation and influential in getting it started in a successful manner.
Pastor Howard said, “Jim wanted us to dream big dreams for God.”
Dr. Melissa Pratt, one of America’s outstanding young preachers, said, “Jim Chapman wore his love for Christ and others in his smile. He was warm and genuine and was a true encourager to me.” He was that to thousands who knew him.