Newsome, James

NEWSOME, Jr., James The Rev. Dr. James DuPre Newsome, Jr., age 89, of Atlanta, died peacefully on July 16 after a short illness. The son of James DuPre Newsome, Sr. and Hildred Merle Coney Newsome, he was a native of Jackson, MS where he was shaped by the public schools of that city and by his family's active participation in the life of the Presbyterian Church. After his graduation from Millsaps College and Columbia Theological Seminary, he served for two years (1956 to 1958) as Associate Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbus, GA, and, subsequently, as Pastor of Mars Hill Presbyterian Church, Athens, TN. His work in Athens (1958 to 1965) was characterized by a period of growth in the life of the congregation and the successful completion of a campaign for a new educational building. Adjacent to the campus of Tennessee Wesleyan College, Mars Hill Church drew many students to its services of worship during Dr. Newsome's pastorate, and his work there was also characterized by a vibrant outreach to high school youth. The Presbytery of Knoxville, the church's area governing body, had recently completed construction of a new camp and conference facility, and Dr. Newsome was one of a group of ministers who worked to ensure that all youth activities of the facility were racially integrated, a controversial step at the time. In October 1965, Dr. Newsome accepted a call to become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Paducah, KY. His pastorate there was marked, among other things, by his involvement in social concerns of the community. He was a member of a small group of leaders who established a shelter for young people, The Renaissance Home, which was locally financed and which provided care for young people during their transition into permanent foster care. For his work there, he was named an honorary Kentucky Colonel. In 1969, Dr. Newsome was appointed to a term on the Kentucky Crime Commission by Gov. Louie B. Nunn. In 1970 he began a Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt University in the area of Hebrew Bible, all while continuing his work as pastor of the Paducah church. His dissertation on the subject of the role of prophecy in the Old Testament books of Chronicles was distilled into an article that was subsequently published in the influential Journal of Biblical Literature. Following a twelve-month period of study at Oxford University in England, Dr. Newsome was called to be Professor of Old Testament at his alma mater, Columbia Seminary, where he served for two decades and from which institution he retired in 1996. There he taught a wide range of subjects relating to his field, including instruction in biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. He authored six books in the area of biblical studies and, in collaboration with three faculty colleagues, he made major contributions to three additional books dealing with the use of biblical texts in preaching. His 1984 textbook, The Hebrew Prophets, remained in print for nearly three decades and was widely used in colleges and seminaries. In 2010 Dr. Newsome was honored with a Distinguished Service Award by the Alumni/ae Association of Columbia Seminary. Upon his retirement, he began to devote himself to two areas of study he had considered entering professionally when a college student: American history and English literature. During those years he read widely in the history of the American presidency, a particular area of interest being the presidencies of Andrew Jackson and of his protégée, James K. Polk. His interest in literature often focused on the work of Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, the comedies of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Thomas Dekker being of special delight to him. One of his resolutions upon retiring was to become fluent in the French language. By his own admission, he was never completely successful ("A Mississippi drawl and a rolling Parisian R are totally incompatible," he once quipped.), but the French skills that he admitted to, gave him wide access to the works of Molière and other playwrights, which he enjoyed "stumbling through," as he put it. He was no musician, but he was enraptured by Baroque music, and he taught several classes in George Frederick Handel's use of Scripture in the oratorio Messiah. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Suzella ("Sis") Burns Newsome, originally of Knoxville, TN; by four children, Laura N. Pittman of Atlanta; Carolyn N. Newton of Seneca, SC; Richard B. Newsome of Columbia, SC; J. Burns Newsome of Decatur, GA; and by eleven grandchildren and six great grandchildren. One brother, Richard L. Newsome of Reno, NV also survives him. Due to the virus, a memorial service will be held for immediate family at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Atlanta. Tributes may be directed to Columbia Theological Seminary, Trinity Presbyterian Church, or the Salvation Army.

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