Faulkner, James R. "J.R."

Longtime Leader Of Tennessee Temple, Highland Park Baptist

Thursday, June 11, 2009
James R. Faulkner
James R. Faulkner

The Rev. Dr. James R. Faulkner "J.R.," died peacefully at home Thursday, June 10, in the company of those he loved. He was born June 8, 1914, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and he lived to celebrate his 95th birthday with children, grandchildren and a few friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Magdalene, his parents, James R. Faulkner Sr. and Katherine Massey Faulkner, brothers, J. Bernard, Woodrow W. and A. Mitchell Faulkner, half-brothers, Paul and David Faulkner, half-sister, Jean Faulkner Alexander, stepmother, Zella Mae Faulkner and grandson, James Garland Faulkner.

He is survived by five sons and their wives, the Rev. Dr. Randall and Connie Faulkner, Oklahoma City, Ok., Robert and Donna Faulkner, Chattanooga, the Rev. Paul and Diana Faulkner, Chattanooga, Peter and Judy Faulkner, Valdosta, Ga., the Rev. Steve and Judy Faulkner, Simcoe, Ontario, 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

He is also survived by half-brothers, William E. Faulkner, Williston, S.C., and Wade Faulkner, Pine Level, N.C., and many nieces and nephews.

As a young man growing up in Charlotte in the 1920's and 30's he was a dance instructor and performer, entertaining audiences in variety shows throughout the region. He was employed in advertising sales for Warner Brothers and United Artists.

His life was radically changed when he was brought to faith in Jesus Christ in 1937. He was influenced in his early Christian life by the friendship of young adults who were a part of an evangelistic movement which was sweeping through the Charlotte area at that time.

Among those close friends were T.W. Wilson and Grady Wilson later of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Under the spiritual guidance of some key businessmen in Charlotte, a group which later became a part of Christian Business Men’s Committee, J.R. and his friends were active in gospel services in churches, public buildings and tent revivals throughout North and South Carolina and other Southern states.

After two years of Biblical studies in the Charlotte Bible Institute, in 1941 he enrolled in Bob Jones College, then in Cleveland, Tn. He was an art major, and he supported himself by designing and painting sets for the school’s Shakespearean and operatic productions. In this he was closely associated with Dr. Bob Jones Jr., who became a mentor and close friend.

It was at Bob Jones College that he met his beloved "Matsie," his wife of 65 years.

He accepted the call to become the pastor of the South Rossville Baptist Church, Rossville, in 1945. During the years of his ministry in North Georgia, he was active in supporting Youth for Christ, the Gideons, and CBMC. He continued to lead revival meetings which were influential in leading many people to faith in Jesus Christ. In these meetings he used his artistic talent to create colorful "chalk talks" illustrating biblical themes.

While still serving as pastor in Rossville, he and his wife accepted the invitation of Dr. Lee Roberson to join the faculty of the newly-founded Tennessee Temple College in Chattanooga.

Beginning in 1946, he served in many roles in the fledgling institution including teacher, business manager and treasurer. In 1952 he was appointed vice president, a position he held until he was appointed president of Tennessee Temple University in 1974. He served as president until his retirement in 1985.

In 1949, he was asked to become Dr. Lee Roberson’s associate pastor in the ministries of the Highland Park Baptist Church, at that time one of the fastest-growing churches in the South. His ministry was characterized by loyalty, humility, optimism, enthusiasm and hard work. Throughout his 42-year ministry at Highland Park, he was known for his pastor’s heart of compassion for all people.

He loved to lead large congregations in singing the great hymns of the faith. He also enjoyed leading the children who went to Camp Joy in enthusiastically singing gospel songs and choruses.

As Dr. Roberson’s close associate, he was heard for many years on the church’s live daily radio broadcast "Gospel Dynamite." He assisted Dr. Roberson in the development and oversight of the branch church (chapel) ministry, a large bus ministry, the Union Gospel Mission, Camp Joy, World Wide Faith Missions, and major annual conferences held at the church and the college.

He was a founding board member of Baptist International Missions, Inc. With Dr. Roberson, he was influential in the independent Baptist movement in the Southern United States, and served on the original board of the Southwide Baptist Fellowship.

He had a ministry nationwide as a speaker for conferences, churches and mission organizations. He received honorary degrees from three colleges, including his alma mater. In the 1970s he was given the key to his home city of Charlotte and honored by the mayor as a "favorite son."

Always creative and energetic, J.R. developed the ability to write poetry late in life. He published a book of poems in 2000 which was used to raise a large sum of money for Camp Joy.

He enjoyed golf, fishing and riding his motorcycle with friends.

He was devoted to his family members, all of whom are deeply grateful for his consistent example of Christian integrity and faith in Jesus Christ.

His epitaph was written by the stylus of his life: "May Jesus Christ Be Praised."

A memorial service of worship and witness will be held at the Highland Park Baptist Church, Chattanooga, on Monday, June 15, at 2 p.m., with Dr. David Bouler and Dr. Randall Faulkner officiating. Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery.

WDYN-FM, 89.7, will broadcast the service "live" at 2 p.m. It can also be heard over the internet by going to and clicking on the "Listen Live" link.

The family will receive visitors at a viewing on Sunday, from 2-6 p.m. at Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist – East Chapel, 404 Moore Road, Chattanooga. A second viewing will be held on Monday, from 12-2 p.m. at the church.

Memorial gifts may be given to the Highland Park Baptist Church, Baptist International Missions, Inc., Tennessee Temple University, or to Camp Joy.

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