Not only were the young ministers he mentored through several decades impressed with his knowledge of the Bible, they were also inspired by the self-discipline of the Rev. James Wilkerson Sr., a Pine Bluff pastor, as he “walked the walk and talked the talk” of a Godly man.
“He knew his Bible and stood on the word by how he lived,” the Rev. Patrick Lockett said of Wilkerson, who died Saturday, Oct. 26, at the age of 83 after more than 60 years in the pulpit. “He lived what he preached, setting an example for those ministers he helped to develop.”
Lockett, also a Pine Bluff minister, said he’ll remember Wilkerson, too, for his much-appreciated sense of humor.
“Whenever he began to preach, he always had a joke to tell,” Lockett said. “The joke would be something related to his message, and helped to get people to be more attentive when he delivered his sermon. Humor was his nature, his make-up.”
In addition to his ministry, Wilkerson also worked as a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier for more than 30 years.
“He was highly respected in the community and by the post office,” Lockett said. “And his congregations always admired him.”
The Rev. George Barnes of Pine Bluff said he knew Wilkerson for 40 years, since Barnes first established his ministry in 1973. He described Wilkerson as “inspirational.”
“He was mild-mannered,” Barnes said of Wilkerson, who was born in Pine Bluff on Christmas Day in 1929. “I never saw him upset. He was such a steady individual. Whenever anybody asked him how he was doing, he always said he was doing the best he could. He said there was no need to complain because complaining wouldn’t make things any better.”
Barnes said Wilkerson was noted for “the way he dealt with situations.”
“You didn’t know you had a problem when you were with him,” Barnes said. “He was a strong individual with a strong personality. Everyone enjoyed just being with him and felt better for the experience. You could always talk to him and he always had time to talk to you. And what he said was always meaningful.”
Wilkerson, Barnes said, was a “powerful” figure in all aspects.
“He was a wise man,” Barnes said. “As a minister and a man, he always delivered good lessons. I’m going to miss him, but I’m not going to talk about him as if he’s gone, because his influence will live on. I think the world of him and his family.”
Lockett echoed Barnes.
“His legacy is going to continue through the lives and works of all those that he’s mentored,” Lockett said of Wilkerson.
Funeral services for Wilkerson will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at Judah Restoration Worship Center, 2407 Main St.