A Tribute to Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Jr. by President Grant Hagiya

Photo by Melissa Carr via Flickr.

With the passing of Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Jr., the world has lost one of the giants of justice and compassion. Rev. Lawson’s entire life embodied our CST core values of “Compassion, Justice, and Belonging.” He worked tirelessly for justice, spearheading the constant civil rights causes, along with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim spearheaded the nonviolent education of Dr. King’s movement and was one of the chief strategists of the most successful civil rights movement in history. Rev. Lawson embodied compassion in his personal life, caring deeply for everyone he met and worked with. Finally, Rev. Lawson practiced inclusion and belonging as Sr. Pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church for 25 years and built a beloved community where all felt welcomed and cared for.

I was honored to serve with Jim in the California-Pacific Annual Conference, later as the District Superintendent of Los Angeles, when Jim was retired, and finally as his Bishop. Every time I talked with Jim, I learned something new, as he was a wealth of wisdom and history. Never shying away from any prophetic stance, Jim stood in the rich biblical history of our prophets. However, he was also one of the most humble and dedicated servants of God. I still remember Jim preaching at our Retirement Service, sharing the wisdom of a lifetime but also humbly thanking our retirees for their service.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1928 into a lineage of Methodist ministers, Rev. Lawson was also a professor, mentor to the Nashville Student Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and pastor. Dr. King once called him “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.”

Our world will not be the same without Jim’s towering presence. Neither will many of us who knew him and loved him. The only thing we can now do is to strive to be like him: to make the world a better place, and to be a better people.

“Absent from the body, present with the Lord!”

Grant J. Hagiya, President

To read more about Rev. Lawson’s extraordinary life, click here: https://www.latimes.com/obituaries/story/2024-06-10/james-lawson-dead