Tribute to David W. Adkins

by Paula Clayton Dempsey

David will be “missed by many who knew him as pastor, colleague, friend and beloved family,” offers Joann Adkins Davis of her brother, David W. Adkins, who died Friday, Sept. 14 in Winchester, Va. of a rare neurological disease, multiple systems atrophy.

During the 38 years David served Starling Avenue Baptist Church in Martinsville, Va. as pastor, the Alliance of Baptists was formed. Leading his church to become a part of the Alliance as well as serving as president of the Virginia chapter of the Alliance are among the many contributions he made to Baptist life locally, regionally and nationally.

When speaking of David’s legacy, Joann, a former board member and officer in the Alliance, writes of his life “born out of talent, brilliance, humor and the greatest—his love for all of God’s creation.” He is known for his commitment to connecting people across lines of division, bridging ecumenical differences and serving the entire community.

Lisa Davis Brownlee, who recently completed a term as vice president of the Alliance’s board of directors, gives gratitude for David’s life and calls him a “very, very special uncle.” Lisa is the daughter of Joann Adkins Davis.

The life and legacy of this pastor who led with gentleness and courage will long serve as an inspiration to many and will be celebrated in a service of worship on Saturday, Sept. 22 in Martinsville, Va. David’s daughter, Kristin Adkins Whitesides, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winchester, Va., will conduct the service.

The following prayer/poem is a reminder of the qualities of David Adkins’ life we would all do well to emulate.

Go peaceful
in gentleness
through the violence of these days
Give freely.
Show tenderness
in all your ways.
Through darkness,
in troubled times
let holiness be your aim.
Seek wisdom.
Let faithfulness
burn like a flame.
God speed you!
God lead you,
and keep you wrapped around His heart
May you be known by love.
Be righteous.
Speak truthfully
in a world of greed and lies.
Show kindness.
See everyone
through heaven’s eyes.
God hold you,
enfold you,
and keep you wrapped around His heart.
May you be known by love.
—Paul Field


Paula Clayton Dempsey is director of partnership relations for the Alliance of Baptists.

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