Home Lifestyle Mississippi Folks: An Appreciation of Jimmy Turner

Mississippi Folks: An Appreciation of Jimmy Turner



Jimmy Turner’s early RUF group at Ole Miss. Picture from RUF.

Jimmy had a novel present for attracting and mentoring (he would say discipling) excellent younger individuals.

The individuals of Mississippi are extraordinary. Every time I’m out of state or nation, and folk ask me what I like most about Mississippi or what’s most unusual about Mississippi, I say “the individuals.”

As a local South Carolinian, who didn’t go to Mississippi till I used to be 28 years outdated (although I’ve now lived and labored right here over half of my life), I wouldn’t have guessed how a lot the individuals of Mississippi would come to imply to me. And I’m not simply taking about well-known Mississippians. I’m speaking about extraordinary individuals which can be unknown exterior their very own comparatively small circles, and perhaps even to fellow Mississippians.

Dr. Ligon Duncan

A type of extraordinary individuals was Jimmy Turner. The Reverend James Albert Turner (however all of us referred to as him Jimmy) was born in Louisville, Mississippi on the twenty third of January, 1937. He studied at Louisville Excessive College, Southwestern in Memphis (now Rhodes School), Belhaven School, and Columbia Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. I met Jimmy in 1990 once I was a younger professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson. Jimmy was already legendary to so many of us in these components. It didn’t take me lengthy to study why.

Jimmy had a novel present for attracting and mentoring (he would say discipling) excellent younger individuals. Early in life he had a coronary heart for God and his Phrase, ultimately ministering to college students in Kosciusko, earlier than founding the youth ministry on the historic First Presbyterian Church of Jackson (beneath the formidable John Reed Miller). Jimmy met and married his spouse Ellen throughout his time there, they usually grew to become a robust crew, pouring their lives into numerous younger individuals, whereas rearing their very own three youngsters. Their dwelling was continuously crammed college students (highschool, school, graduate, medical, seminary and others) assembly for Bible Research or simply in search of an open coronary heart and a listening ear. 

In January of 1973, Jimmy and two of his pals and fellow ministers, Mark Lowrey and Ford Williams, gathered 75 school college students from the College of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State College, and Delta State College to carry a Bible convention in Cleveland, MS. They dreamed collectively about a company that would minister on school campuses across the nation. These conversations grew to become the muse of Reformed College Ministries (RUM), which began campus ministries, referred to as RUF (Reformed College Fellowship) on school campuses, with seminary-trained and ordained ministers main the teams. At this time, RUF is on nearly 160 campuses; is staffed by greater than 400 campus ministers, campus workers, and interns; is in 41 states nationwide, and is even working internationally. However it began right here in Mississippi. And Jimmy was part of that.

Certainly, after serving church buildings in Columbus, Mississippi and Montgomery, Alabama, Jimmy based RUF at Ole Miss, in Oxford in 1978. To this present day, the RUF at Ole Miss stays one of many largest and most vibrant campus ministries in all of RUF. 

Jimmy Turner

I acquired to know Jimmy when he was educating on youth ministry at RTS, and particularly after he moved again to Jackson in 1995 to turn out to be the Space Director of the Christian Medical and Dental Affiliation (CMDA) on the College Medical Middle Campus. Not surprisingly, the UMC CMDA grew to become the most important campus ministry to medical college students in North America (and perhaps the world). 

Right here’s the factor although. For those who met Jimmy on the road, you’ll by no means have guessed the attraction. A small, slight man, with a foul again. No aura of charisma. You wouldn’t even have guessed the attraction of younger individuals to him from his personal pursuits and instincts (he cherished antiques and high quality issues and would have most popular a meal on the Piccadilly buffet to a quick meals joint). However for the virtually 35 years that I knew him, he was continuously surrounded by sharp, distinctive younger individuals. How? Why?

That’s exhausting to reply. A part of it needs to be his evident love and concern for the individuals he served and mentored. All of them knew that Jimmy cared about them. One other factor is that they knew this man actually believed his Bible. All of it. The younger individuals who had been interested in Jimmy needed to know God, and stroll with God, they usually might see and sense that Jimmy knew him. And Jimmy needed to assist them know and love God.

Jimmy by no means retired. Even in his 80s and proper as much as his loss of life, he was discipling younger individuals. Certainly, after finishing his work with CMDA, he went on to serve with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Mississippi School and Belhaven. Jimmy didn’t have an athletic bone in his physique, and I by no means ever bear in mind speaking sports activities with him. How on the earth? And but, only a week earlier than his personal loss of life, you’ll have discovered him serving to a basketball participant to organize a Bible Research that he was about to guide along with his teammates.

My very own mom handed away final 12 months, and in certainly one of our final conversations she stated to me: “Isn’t it fantastic the Lord has tell us so many extraordinary individuals?” Sure. Sure, it’s. And Jimmy Turner was certainly one of them.



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