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The life and the loves of Bishop Roy C. Dawkins remembered

REMEMBERING — The late Bishop Roy C. Dawkins was remembered during a homegoing service Friday at First Westminster Presbyterian Church in Steubenville. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — Family, friends and parishioners gathered June 17 to say their earthly goodbyes to Bishop Roy C. Dawkins, pastor of the Greater Zion Temple Family Worship Center for the past 37 years.

What they really came together for was to celebrate his life and the loves that guided it.

Early on, Bishop James W. Gaiters of the Ohio District Council of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Inc. set the tone, leading the mourners who packed the pews at First Westminster Presbyterian Church in a lively rendition of “Down Through the Years, God’s Been Good to Me.”

“God’s been good, thank him, thank him,” Gaiters said at the end, drawing a chorus of approving thank-yous from the crowd. “The Lord is in this place.”

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God,” he reminded. “The privilege is mine to be here in this capacity, to serve this family and to give recognition where it belongs — to this courageous pastor and all of the years he has been here. He may have been here in the valley, but he’s on a mountain top.”

Dawkins had been serving as an honorary bishop in the church, an emeritus position, after stepping down as suffragan bishop earlier this year. He died June 8 in Weirton Medical Center at the age of 82. He served in the ministry for more than 60 years and was a pastor for 47 years.

Pastor Krysta Tyson of Youngstown told the mourners, “It was (God’s) right to take back what belonged to (him), thank you dear God for letting us borrow him, thank you for allowing him to speak into our lives, thank you for speaking through him to strengthen us, thank you for because you raised him, you raised him victoriously. For this we give you praise, for this we give you glory.”

Marie Jones, assistant pastor and evangelist at Greater Zion, said she was “privileged and honored to call Dawkins her pastor, her covering, her friend, her leader, her teacher and, sometimes, her disciplinarian.”

“I didn’t like it, but I wanted to be saved,” she said, drawing a chorus of amens.

Jones said Dawkins and his wife, Charlene, “were always on call. Midnight, sometimes, people would call, serious things. No matter what the time was … they would run to see what they could do to help. They always came with healing hands, they always came with praise. Bishop loved his church, (he) was a real shepherd. We had green pastures, we had still waters. I know our heads were anointed with oil and our cups did run over.”

“Death will have no final victory,” she said, clapping drowning out her words. “We will all be together, as a family in heaven.”

Elder Roy Henderson told the crowd he and Dawkins were raised together and served in the military together, and it was his wife who’d introduced Charlene to him years ago.

“I just want the family to know, let not your heart be troubled,” he said of Dawkins, who served in the Marine Corps. “My father’s house is where’s he’s at, in one of those pretty mansions.”

The Rev. Darrell Cummings, suffragan bishop-elect and ODC chairman, reminded the audience of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“To laugh often and much: To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you were here.”

“That is the definition of success,” said Cummings, who also serves as pastor of Shiloh Apostolic Faith Assembly in Weirton and Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in Wheeling. “The purpose of life is to have a life of purpose. Sadly, some will die without ever living because they had no purpose in life. An unforgettable man, an unforgettable wife, unforgettable children, pastoring an unforgettable church. He’s gone, but he’s unforgettable. God only knows where I would have been without him.”

Dawkins’ sister, Earline Roland, told family and friends their separation is only temporary.

“Our brother may be gone, but he’s present with us. He’ll always be present with us in spirit,” she said. “(This is) just temporary … We believe we will see you again.”

His eldest sister, Esther Dawkins Anderson, said, “He loved his family, from the oldest down to the youngest. He loved the Lord and he loved his church.”

His widow, Charlene, read a love letter Dawkins had written her in 1967, less than a week after they met, wondering whether she would be “my Waterloo.” They were married for 54 years, she said.

“He gave me so many things and I didn’t have to ask,” she said.

His son, Anson, advised the crowd to “celebrate not just his accomplishments, but who he was,” pointing out his father was “joyful” in life and faith.

The eulogy was delivered by Presiding Bishop Theodore Brooks Sr., who told the family, “Our hearts go out to you as our prayers go up for you.”

A walk-through viewing was held Thursday evening at the Greater Zion Temple Family Worship Center.

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