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Eugene Lawton, minister for the Newark Church of Christ in New Jersey, delivers a keynote at Freed-Hardeman.
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‘Gospel Trumpet’ Eugene Lawton dies at 85

Longtime minister for the Newark Church of Christ 'was not afraid to tell it like it is.'

Eugene Lawton, a longtime minister and renowned evangelist among Churches of Christ, died Saturday at age 85.

Eugene Lawton

Eugene Lawton

“He is now ‘sounding his trumpet’ in his new heavenly home,” members of the Newark Church of Christ in New Jersey, where Lawton served for over a half-century, posted on the congregation’s website.

Lawton, known for his honest, “no-nonsense” approach to preaching, was fond of the trumpet analogy for proclaiming the Gospel — a term echoed in Scripture throughout the Old and New Testaments. On Saturday the phrase appeared repeatedly on social media as friends shared their memories of Lawton.

“’Let me sound my trumpet’ are the words that resound in my head from a little girl to a woman of God!” said Felicea Robinson. Lawton was “not just a soldier of the cross, but a man of God who was not afraid to tell it like it is and encouraged all to do the same.”

A native of St. Petersburg, Fla., Lawton was baptized by the late S.J. Dudley and studied at Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, the only historically Black Christian college associated with Churches of Christ. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pepperdine University in California and a doctorate in ministry from Trinity Seminary in Indiana.

A young Eugene Lawton, right, shakes hands with Nokomis Yeldell, Yeldell, who preached for the Norris Road Church of Christ in Memphis, Tenn., died in 2007 after 50-plus years of ministry,

A young Eugene Lawton, right, shakes hands with Nokomis Yeldell, Yeldell, who preached for the Norris Road Church of Christ in Memphis, Tenn., died in 2007 after 50-plus years of ministry,

He ministered for the East 7th Street Church of Christ in Oklahoma City from 1959 to 1961 before moving to the Newark congregation. He has served in numerous capacities for Southwestern Christian, including a two-year stint as academic dean. He was a regular speaker at the National Lectureship, an annual gathering of predominantly Black Churches of Christ, in addition to youth conferences and Gospel meetings in locales across the U.S., the Caribbean and Africa.

Eugene Lawton celebrates his 85th birthday.

Eugene Lawton celebrates his 85th birthday.

On Jan. 28, his 85th birthday, Lawton posted to Facebook: “After all that I have been through, I thank God for his majestic grace and his marvelous goodness to wake me up this morning.

“I am still clothed in my right mind, got a roof over my head, got food on my table, got the activity of my limbs and still preaching every Sunday — oh praise his holy name.”

As recently as March 2, Lawton was on social media promoting an upcoming Church Growth Seminar hosted by the Newark congregation and featuring Charlie McClendon, minister for the Northside Church of Christ in Jacksonville, Fla. The theme: “No Pandemic Can Lockdown My Soul!”

Funeral arrangements are pending. Check back for updates.

Filed under: African American churches Eugene Lawton longtime minister National National Lectureship Newark Church of Christ Obituaries Top Stories

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