Joey Jeter dedicated his life to sharing the peace, hope, justice and love of Jesus Christ: he preached it, taught it, wrote about it, and embodied it. He saw divine inspiration everywhere: in words of prophets written on subway walls…in the plaintive call of a Minnesota loon…in the hard-worn lines of the faces o…read more
Joey Jeter dedicated his life to sharing the peace, hope, justice and love of Jesus Christ: he preached it, taught it, wrote about it, and embodied it. He saw divine inspiration everywhere: in words of prophets written on subway walls…in the plaintive call of a Minnesota loon…in the hard-worn lines of the faces of “the least of these”…in and between the lines of holy scripture; so that he was not anxious to leave the world and the people he cherished. But neither did he fear death, for every fiber of his being danced with knowledge of the truth he proclaimed: that death will not have the final word.
The Rev. Dr. Joseph R. Jeter, Jr. was born October 5, 1943 in Fort Worth, TX to Joseph and Helen Jeter. He loved his parents and always remembered their humble beginnings and how hard they worked to make a way for their family. He adored his little sister, Jann, and never stopped being protective of her and feeling proud to be her brother.
From a young age, Joey felt a strong call to serve God and serve others. He had the greatest respect for the dignity of EVERY human being (and most non-human ones, too!), and was relentless in his defense of the marginalized. These passions led him to study religion at TCU and then to serve for two years in the Peace Corps in Niger. He completed his Divinity degree at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he also served at Park Avenue Christian Church and in a street ministry for homeless persons. He then went on to serve pastorates in Fort Worth, TX; Alice, TX; Houston, TX; and Upland, CA, before accepting a call to teach at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth.
It was when he was in Alice that he met Brenda, the love of his life. They were paired together as co-counselors at church camp, and later learned that the pairing was not accidental. It was a setup from the start, and apparently a providential one. Joey and Brenda were married in 1975, and welcomed Justin in 1977. Joey was the consummate family man, advocating for Brenda through thick and thin, including a victorious battle with cancer in the early 90s, and never being too busy to have a catch with Justin in the front yard. We do not have words enough to thank him for how he loved us.
At Brite, Joey served for over 25 years as the Granville and Erline Walker Professor of Homiletics. Professorship, for him, was never about honor, prestige, or even a desire to be heard; it was about empowering his students to find their voices so that the good news of Jesus might be proclaimed to the ends of the earth with wisdom, power, humor, and grace. Perhaps his greatest gift was his eye for the divine – his remarkable mindfulness of the presence of God in the world – not least in the gifts of his students. He saw preaching potential in each one, and every one of his students was precious to him.
Joey authored five books and many articles, and found particular joy in serving as President of the Academy of Homiletics in 2001. In his spare time, he liked watching baseball, and never gave up on the Texas Rangers. He was proud of the little cabin he built with his own two hands on Lake Palo Pinto (save the electrical, which he entrusted to his father-in-law), and later, was fond of rowing his little boat around Lake Granbury at sunrise. He built a notable collection of fractional value revenue stamps, planted hundreds of trees, and saved more cats than the Humane Society.
We had been losing Joey little by little for some time, as Alzheimer’s disease robbed him of memory, cognition, and his precious words. But even as the words faded, the rhythms of Word persisted, and he preached with his eyes and his smile. We are so grateful that he now rests in a “place” where the need for words gives way to perfect peace and perfect truth, for then we shall see face to face. We don’t doubt that when Joey looked upon the face of Jesus, he was met with the only approval he ever really needed: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Joey was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Helen Jeter. He is survived by his loving wife, Brenda, of Granbury, TX, his son and daughter-in-law, Justin and Jamie Jeter, also of Granbury, his grandchildren, Gabriel and Willow Jeter, his sister, Jann Jeter, of Fort Worth, his cousin, Gary Reams, of Fort Worth, and many beloved extended relatives and friends.
Brenda and Justin are especially grateful for the love of the people of First Christian Church of Granbury, for the generosity of Dr. Rogers Coleman in establishing the Joey Jeter Ministerial Education Fund at Brite Divinity School (at TCU in Fort Worth), and for the love and care of Gary Reams and the staff at both Bridgewater Memory Care Center and Interim Hospice in Joey’s last years.
A celebration of Joey’s life will be held at First Christian Church of Granbury (2109 W Hwy 377) on Saturday, August 24th at 2 PM, and all are welcome. Memorial gifts are not expected, but if you would like to make such a gift, please consider giving to either First Christian Church of Granbury or the aforementioned Joey Jeter Ministerial Education Fund at Brite. Thank you!
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Words will never be able to express how thankful we are for everything you did for our son. Thank you so much!