“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”. 2 Timothy 4:7
On February 11, 1968, a baby boy was born to James and Viola Hickson whom they named James. James was blessed to have two loving mothers and fathers, also reared by Hosea J Lee, Jr and Susan Hickson.
James was born in Camden, SC and never stopped experiencing the feeling of home when visiting. He and Dexter spent summers running between aunts’, uncles’, cousins’, and grandma’s homes, eating berries from the vine and peach cobblers from the oven.
James spent his childhood days in Denver, CO, Richardson, Houston and Plano, TX where he established many relationships that would extend throughout his life. James attended Westfield High School in Houston, TX and graduated from Plano Senior High School in Plano, TX.
James was a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. As a Longhorn, he was a member of the Innervisions Gospel Choir, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the football team. After graduating, James married Quandalyn and together they had two precious children, Jessica Chante and Aaron Michael. James initially went to work for the Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division; however, in 1996, he responded to a call to seminary and matriculated into Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. In May 2000, James graduated with a Masters of Divinity.
In 2002, James was ordained to serve as Director of Racial Ethnic Ministries and Recruitment for Austin Seminary. In 2003, he was called by Covenant Presbyterian Church to start a new church. In 2009, New Covenant Fellowship of Austin was chartered, where James served as Teaching Elder, Minister of the Word and Sacrament, Pastor, and friend at the time of his passing.
James’ grandfather, Rev. Hosea J Lee Sr., saw that God had called James to ministry when he was only nine years old. James first lived this vocation serving as an Associate Pastor at the Nineteenth Street Missionary Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, then as a pulpit supply pastor for various denominations including American Baptist, Church of the Brethren, United Methodist, Non-Denominational, and many Presbyterian Church (USA) Sinton and Vanderbilt Presbyterian churches, and finally by shepherding the first multicultural church within the Presbyterian Church (USA).
James was a dedicated Moderator and Board member of the Presbyterian Multicultural Network, member of the Board of Trustees for both MO-Ranch and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, consultant for and member of the African American Ministries in the Synod of the Sun, chairperson for the Church Development and Evangelism Division for Mission Presbytery, and a former field staff for Multicultural Ministries. Recently he enjoyed evangelism trips to Cuba, Chiapas Mexico, and Haiti to name a few.
James celebrated the eclectic, unifying, and energizing work of the Holy Spirit in his ministry which was birthed from his experiences of worshiping across economic, racial, and denominational lines. He believed in building relationships and brought his heart and youthful exuberance to this endeavor. His experience as a teammate was instructive in the power of relationships. He loved Longhorn athletics, nearly all cartoons, and often found the Good Word in both; whether in counseling with a couple, conducting a wedding or preaching a sermon. No event was too profound for the Hakuna Matata Gospel, a “Hook ‘Em” or a little Tom & Jerry. James had a youthful spirit and drew children in with his love and his Donald Duck impression. He was extremely proud of his own children in all of their accomplishments be they personal, spiritual, academic, musical, or athletic.
There are no words to capture neither the depth of loss nor the height of impact James Lee made in this world. He walked his talk (and that man talked a lot!). He expected a lot out of us. He was forgiving when we didn’t deliver. He was honest when he didn’t deliver. He hoped for us as people, as a church, as the Church, as Austinites, Texans, Americans, all of it. His legacy is long and wide; as is the hole he left in our hearts.
Thank God there are no tears in Heaven and up there his lungs let him run like he used to.
James is survived by children Jessica and Aaron, mother, Viola, father and step-father James Arnold (Susan) and Hosea Jr. (Sahara), brothers Dexter (Sherrena) and Kenny (Saida), sisters Regina and Nikkie (Dylan), nephews Dexter Jr., Jason, and Lee, a very special friend Melodee, a host of aunt and uncles, many other friends and relatives.
James was preceded in death by his grandparents Willie Mae and Glenn Thompson, Justine and Glover Hickson II, and Lois and Hosea Lee Sr., Aunt Addie Flounnory, cousins Adolphus Duren Jr., Reginald Thompson, and other first cousins from the Lee family.
A Graveside Homegoing Service to celebrate his life and ministry will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2016 11:00 AM at Rock Spring United Methodist Church, 2695 Kirkland Cemetery Road, Camden, SC. Viewing available at Collins funeral home at 714 W DeKalb St, Camden, SC on Friday, May 20, 2016.
James worked tirelessly for his ministry. In honor of his life and vision, we ask that you consider making a donation to the James Hickson Lee Memorial Fund mailed to New Covenant Fellowship of Austin, 1507 Wilshire Blvd, Austin, TX 78722.