Bishop Earl G. Hunt Jr., 86, a resident of Givens Estates, died Saturday, March 26, 2005.
Hunt was born in Johnson City, Tenn., on Sept. 14, 1918, the son of Earl Gladstone and Tommie Mae DeVault Hunt. He received his B.S. from East Tennessee State University in 1941 and his M.Div. from Candler School of Theology in 1946, the latter while serving a student appointment at Sardis Methodist Church in Atlanta. He was ordained deacon and elder by Bishop Paul B. Kern and joined the Holston Annual Conference.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann Kyker Hunt of Given Estates; his son, Dr. Earl Stephen Hunt and wife Edeltraut of Bethesda, Md.; and special friends, Frances and James Hart of Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Bishop Hunt received 11 honorary degrees from various colleges and universities. He was a popular radio and television preacher and lecturer and a trustee of numerous institutions.
Ordained in The United Methodist Church in 1944, he served pastorates in Georgia and Tennessee from 1942 to 1956. Hunt began his pastoral ministry in the Holston Conference, where he served pastorates in Kingsport, Chattanooga and Morristown, Tenn., where in 1952, he was named "Young Man of the Year". His local church pastorate was interrupted in 1960 by his election to the presidency of Emory & Henry College, where he built a strong faculty, increased the endowment and expanded the physical facilities.
In 1964, the Southeastern Jurisdiction elected Earl Hunt to the episcopacy, one of the youngest bishops in Methodism, and was assigned to the Charlotte, N.C., area. In an exceptional term of 12 years, his courageous ministry led him to appoint the first African-American to the district superintendency in the Southeastern Jurisdiction and to organize a Lay Advisory Council.
In 1976, the Hunts were appointed to the important Nashville area, where several of Methodism's general agencies are located. Here he began another ministry – writing. He had previously edited the book, Storms and Starlight, a volume of messages written by our bishops on the Holy Spirit.
In Nashville, he wrote, "I Have Believed", which was followed by, "A Bishop Speaks His Mind", "Recovering The Sacred" and the "Denman Lectures, Evangelism For A New Century". At the time of his death, he was finishing his last book entitled, "An Open Door".
In 1980, the Hunts were sent to the Florida area. While in Florida, he was given one of the most important assignments of his lifetime, to chair the Committee on Our Theological Task. Though he was assisted by a distinguished group of theologians, the document adopted by the General Conference in 1988 bears the unmistakable mark of his own incisive style.
This doctrinal statement still comprises Part II of "The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church".
Bishop Hunt served as president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church from 1987-88. He was chairperson of the General Committee on Family Life of the Methodist Church from 1965-1972. He served as president of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry from 1984-1988. A member of the governing board of the National Council of Churches for 12 years, he served also for 10 years on the executive committee of the World Methodist Council and was awarded the World Methodist Chair of Honor in 1988. He was a preacher on the Methodist Series of "The Protestant Hour", a nationwide radio program and the author of many articles on education and religion. His sermons and essays have appeared in numerous anthologies. Bishop Hunt served as a trustee of 10 colleges and universities, as well as many other organizations.
In retirement, the Hunts moved to Lake Junaluska in 1988, where he began another phase of ministry by serving as president of The Foundation for Evangelism, an affiliate of The General Board of Discipleship. One of the remarkable aspects of the life of Earl Hunt was his ability to successfully express his unusual talents in so many phases of effective ministry – but at the center has always been education and responsible evangelism. The primary ministry of The Foundation for Evangelism is the funding of the E. Stanley Jones Professorships of Evangelism in United Methodist seminaries.
His important work at The Foundation helped bring a new awareness to Methodism, joining education and responsible evangelism. This helped refocus the church on her major mission of, "making disciples of Jesus Christ."
The Foundation for Evangelism and evangelism in the United Methodist Church is stronger today because of Bishop Earl Hunt. In his role as president of The Foundation, Earl Hunt may have made his most lasting contribution to World Methodism. In 2002, Bishop Hunt was given a most deserved honor when The Foundation for Evangelism, Lake Junaluska, selected him for his exemplary lifetime accomplishments in the area of evangelism as a lifetime distinguished evangelist of the United Methodist Church.
Services will be held at Longs Chapel United Methodist Church, Lake Junaluska, on Wednesday, March 30, 2005, at 11 a.m. The principal speakers will be Bishop Ken Carder and Dr. James B. Logan. The family will receive friends after the service. Pallbearers will be from the Foundation for Evangelism. Also a service will be at Monte Vista Memorial Park in Johnson City, at 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, with Bishop Richard Looney officiating. The family will greet friends following the service.
Memorial gifts may be made to Emory & Henry College, P.O. Box 947, Emory, VA 24327; The Foundation for Evangelism, P.O. Box 985, Lake Junaluska, NC; or Givens Estates Resident Supplementary Assistance Fund, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803.
For those who desire, an online memorial register is available at "Obituaries" at www.wellsfuneralhome.com.
Published in Bristol Herald Courier on Mar. 29, 2005.