May 26, 1951 – December 22, 2018
No matter what your trials are, or how big your mountain seems;
The Lord is there to see you through; To go to all extremes.
So if your cross seems hard to bear, and you know not what to do;
The One who loves you most of all will be there to see you through.
We, members of the Conference of International Black Lutherans, want the Echols family to know that our hearts are with you as we gather to remember the life of our brother and man of faith, the Rev. Dr. James Kenneth Echols.
Whereas, the Rev. Dr. James Kenneth Echols was, First and foremost, a child of God,
And whereas Jim was formed and called and nurtured by God to be a pastor, a preacher, a scholar, a professor, the first African American seminary dean (United Lutheran Seminary, née LTSP), the first African American seminary President (LSTC) in the ELCA, and a staff member at the ELCA during his ministry journey on earth;
And whereas Jim was a participant in the initial gathering of African and African American teaching theologians in Harare, Zimbabwe, in September 1986, as well as a founding member of the Conference of International Black Lutheran’s (CIBL);
And whereas Jim was an excellent writer who contributed significantly and creatively to the growing collaborative body of CIBL work that has been produced to date, including our earliest documents: especially his essay on “The Two Kingdom Doctrine” in Theology and the Black Experience and his editing of the booklet “A Message from Harare” from Black Lutherans;
And whereas Jim, in spite of the challenges posed to his reading and writing abilities caused by his glaucoma, envisioned the publication of and wrote the introduction to An African Descent Lutheran Catechism for the 21st century (to be released in April by 1517 Media, née Augsburg/Fortress Press), a volume that he hoped will be owned and used by all the member churches of Lutheran World Federation;
Therefore, be it resolved that said catechism be considered a living memorial to the legacy and memory of our brother, husband, father, uncle, friend, professor, dean, and President: James Kenneth Echols;
Be it further resolved that we embrace the Echols family with the knowledge that all of us have a common bond in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We know your loss is deep, and your sorrow is great, We cannot replace Jim, but we want you to know that we share in your sorrow,
And finally, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us … run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” [Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV], just as Jim did.
Faithfully submitted on February 13th, 2019
By the Rev. Dr. Cheryl Stewart Pero
On behalf of The Conference of International Black Lutherans