Rev J. Otis King
Billy Sunday Rembrances
Ann Pat King - Fanning
Class of ‘65
I truly enjoyed Rainer's story in last week's issue and it took me waaaaaay back to my childhood. You may or not recall my dad, Rev. J. Otis King was pastor at Lincoln Baptist Church. Daddy was the typical "old fashioned hell-fire brimstone" style preacher and many who knew dad and grew up under his ministry can vouch that he reminded them of "Billy Sunday" when he preached.
Dad's thought was "folks are going to hell, and we must do all we can to win them for Jesus." He was so unique and creative in his preaching and of course it was how I was raised. Only in my 20's did I begin to serve (as pianist/organist and eventually music minister) - in other churches under different ministers, with varied and different styles. It was then I realized how much I missed (and still do at times) Daddy's sermons. His approach – “You get them to church, and we'll rescue them!” and many were rescued. It was a glorious time for Lincoln Church I'll always be grateful to have been his daughter and to minister along-side him until his death in 1985. Even though Dad retired from pastoring in his late 70's, he continued to preach into his 80's. He had a keen humor as well - and truly knew how to "hold the attention of a congregation".
I recall those “Tent Meeting” days but sadly do not recall the Lee Band's rendition of the hymns, but I so wish I did since I grew up on most of those hymns. Dad often had 2-3 weeks-long "revivals" in the Tent Meetings - and we truly saw God move in our midst. It was often hot and muggy - but no one seemed to mind. Many of our classmates went to Lincoln Baptist and can share their memories of those days, too. At the time, we thought "church" would always be like that, but it is NOT!
My oh my, what a difference 30 years has made in today's worship styles and music. Dad would be in shock! Every now and then a "good ol' hymn" slips through the more contemporary and band driven "worship music" but for folks my age and older the new music is not very well received. Being a musician however, I have learned to appreciate it all and know that God can work through it all. It's the same message that all must come to the saving knowledge of Christ our Savior but the music style and methods are changed dramatically. Yet, what we experienced in the late 50's-70's was vastly different from even early years in the "church music era". Those way-early Christians were just as shocked at the music that developed in early 1900's and beyond. I remember when "How Great Thou Art" was introduced through the Billy Graham ministry and it was not well received at first, but over time it became a favorite of most all Christians, even across denominational lines, and still is today.
Side note: My sister, who is 85, and also a musician was raised the same as I and thinks today's music is deplorable and there's no changing her mind. Obviously, she has a closed spirit when it comes to "change." I love her though.
I was the baby and have only one sibling left and one Aunt who is 102 who is still a live wire. I'm forever grateful to have lived in the era of Lincoln Baptist, Lee High School, little Huntsville and big Huntsville, and all the wonderful blessings that each brought to my life and so many others.
We are special because we are Fami-Lee!
Here is an article I wrote several years ago about Daddy that was published in the local book "The Heritage of Madison County" 1998, Vol. 45.
Mother and Daddy in 1945
Rev. J. Otis King -
He Loved God, Family and Madison County!
by Pat King Fanning
In 1945, the members of Lincoln Memorial Baptist Church, located on Meridian Street, extended a call to Rev. J. Otis King from Johnson City, Tennessee, to be their pastor. No one could possibly have anticipated the unique impact this man would have upon their church, the Lincoln community and Madison County in general. In 1985, when Daddy died at the age of 81, Bill Easterling, a well-renowned columnist for THE HUNTSVILLE TIMES, wrote the following tribute: “A unique life ended when the Rev. J. Otis King died. He was God’s servant . . . a man of unlimited faith . . .” To him, “Heaven was heaven, hell was hell, and there was no gray matter.”
After accepting the pastorate of Lincoln Baptist, Daddy moved to Huntsville with his wife and partner in life, Nina Lee Keaton King, their daughters, Jerry and Marvene, and sons, Boyce and Billy. It would be two more years before Ann Pat, their baby daughter, would be born – the only one of the King bunch to be “native born” in Madison County – which she, still to this day, proudly proclaims.
In time, the church began to grow and God blessed as souls were saved and lives changed. Huntsville began to really grow and change also. The cozy cotton capital of the South was gradually becoming the booming space capital of the world. These changes brought new people and new challenges to our secure little town. Many of these challenges brought much pain to the families of our hometown – more nightclubs – “sin-holes” as Daddy would say. Daddy took a strong stand against sin and he cared about the community where he served. If he were living today there is no doubt that he would still be fighting to keep our city on the heaven-ward track.
Childhood memories are vivid and precious – hearing Daddy preach each Sunday with the passion of a warrior and a heart of love – recalling, almost smelling the sawdust from the “good ole” tent revivals – observing him visiting the hospitals to comfort and pray with those who were sick – recalling the Sunday afternoon Jail Ministry of singing and preaching to young men who’d strayed – watching as Daddy would hand over his last dollar bill to someone who needed it worse than he – singing for him on his “Back to the Cross” radio and television programs. Most precious of all are the memories of quietly listening, trying not to disturb him, as he prayed late into the night, lying prostrate on the floor, pouring out his heart to God. He was there, giving all he had – for the births, marriages, deaths and all that was in between for anyone who needed him.
Daddy had a heart for developing new churches in our growing city. Several new churches were started during Huntsville’s booming years – Northside Baptist, Meadow Drive Baptist, Central Baptist and New Salem Baptist - and they still carry on the work to this day.
50th Wedding Anniversary
1946 - Taken following a morning worship service.
Memphis, TN - 50 years ago this week the Beatles made their first American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I don't know exactly what you were doing that day, but I know what I was doing because of the journal I kept.
Sunday, February 9, 1964
40th Day - 326 days to follow
Woke up at 8:30 A.M. but rolled over and went back to sleep. Missed Sunday School. Got up at 10:15 A.M., got ready, and walked to church. I was a few minutes late. Today's Scout Sunday. I invited myself home for dinner with William.
We came back to the church at 2:00 P.M. We had our Westminster Fellowship Rally today. Anne W. came. I gave her my address and told her to write to me. She said she would. We got the "Generals Three," a folk singing group from Lee, to sing at our recreation. They sing pretty well.
Hurried home after the rally to see the "Ed Sullivan Show." The "Beatles" from England were on it. They're great. After that I worked on my letter project then did some physics homework.
I still doubt if any of us knew on that night what a big impact on everything the Beatles would have and that today - 50 years later (Yikes!) - they would still be as popular as they are. It just goes to show that our parents did not know everything.
Enjoyed very much Rainer's "True Confession" article and I am sure all is forgiven. One comment he made however reminded me of a pet peeve I've had with today's high school bands. Or maybe the peeve is with the high school and the band teacher ? Rainer wrote the following :
We had demonstrated a facet of that larger purpose with our music-making in the stands during the games, entertaining and firing up the Lee crowd with spirited renditions of such tunes as “Rebel Rouser,” “Alabama Bound,” and the regional anthem of that time, “Dixie.”
Here in the Augusta area and in particular, here in North Augusta, SC the high school bands performs at half time but play very little if at all during the game. Instead between plays, during time outs and as the teams change from offense to defense the stadium plays canned music over the loud speaker to fire up the crowd. And it is always the same music and it is always way too loud. "Now that's just wrong." I keep saying to know one in particular, why isn't the school band playing ? Jennifer has a nephew and a niece in the North Augusta High School Band and the school also has a very good football program. They are in the state play-off's most every year. So we go to most of the home games and get to see the band perform. What we don't see or hear is any "music-making in the stands" by the band. When we tell the kids about our high school days (back in the olden days) and how our school band performed and even at times worked with the cheer leaders to fire up the crowd they just look at us like, Why ?
Not sure if it is that way in all high schools today? But if it is, a very important and enjoyable part of being a kid at a high school football game and being in the band has been lost. Though we may have recently lost a cherished old building in the destruction of our old high school. What we have been losing for a long time are some of the wonderful traditions and activities that we all once participated in when we were in high school.
(Editor's Note: For Craig and others, I have a similar Pet Peeve about today's bands. What has happened to the American Flag? When we were growing up every high school band marched behind a flag. For the last couple of years I have attended Veteran's Day parades and maybe one in ten school bands carry a flag any more. And the majorettes look like they are taking classes in lap dancing and not marching. My two cents.)
LEE HIGH SCHOOL
FIRST GRADUATING CLASS 1964
50 year Reunion
We will be celebrating the First Graduating Class of one of Huntsville’s Historic High Schools on
September 26-27, 2014
WELCOME ALL 1965, 1966
ACOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE: Blocked Rooms at the Embassy Suites: 20 suites blocked; 1964 1ST priority;
$119.00/night, must reserve early; rooms will not be held until Sept; specify LHS 50th Reunion Code#636
Sorry, but the Comments Section below is not available for viewers.
Google only allows the editor to leave comments, so please use the email link above to send me any comments you have.