"In Memory of"
Rev. Mitchell Stokes Epperson
It is with a heavy heart that I attempt to pay tribute to a man whom we here at the Northminster Presbyterian Church dearly loved.
I am unable to find the words to express our deep grief for the loss of not only a great Christian and Humanitarian, but also a good friend.
Like so many great Christians and Humanitarians, he came from an obscure, humble, and simple environment with nothing more than love in his heart, a fear of God, and the will to uphold truth and rebuke wickedness.
He recognized the need of greater knowledge an learning if he were going to fulfill his calling and the desire of his heart. At an age when most young men were finishing college, he entered high school. The road was long and hard. Often he did not know where the next meal was coming from. But placing his trust in God, he pressed on until the job was finished.
As a minister he looked out for the spiritual needs of his congregation. He visited the sick, he comforted the sorrowful, he encouraged the weary, he provided for the hungry, and he served as a peace-maker. He counseled those with troubled minds, and he walked with hundreds along the last mile in the Valley of the Shadows.
I am sure there is not a family in this church who has been a member for any length of time who has not been touched in one way or another or who has not received a kindly deed by him, either directly or indirectly.
Not only was he a great and good minister, but he was also a great humanitarian. He championed the cause of the common man of every race, creed and color. As this hour came upon him he was busily engaged in preparing to battle for the cause of the needy elderly people.
He was not dogmatic, but liberal in his thinking toward other faiths and creeds. He was able to see good in all things and in every man; and he always stood ready to expose and rebuke evil whenever and wherever it appeared.
I am sure the lives of every man, woman, and child who has come in contact with him has been made richer. It is not for us to know the why of our entrance or exit in this world. Neither is it for us to why the innocent, the good, and the just are so often taken from us when their services and influences are so greatly needed here on earth. These things are controlled by a destiny other than these finite minds of ours are able to understand.
Epp, we loved you and we are going to miss you, but the light that you cast here while among us shall never be extinguished. I know of no better way to eulogize or praise you than to quote the Psalmist:
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sit the seat of the scornful. But in his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
So, instead of mourning, my brethren, let us look up and address him in the words of the poet:
"Thy day has come, not gone; Thy sun has risen, not set;
Thy life is now beyond the reach of death or change -
Not ended - but begun.
O, noble soul! O, gentle heart! Hail, and farewell! "
(Written and delivered by Dan C. Hughes - Elder, Neighbor, Friend - at the 11 o'clock worship service, March 20, 1960)