There are very few of us left who started this journey with the Most Reverend Alphonso Lyons, Jr. from the very beginning … of which I am one. I remember I couldn’t wait to leave school one day back in the ‘70s so that I could go and cast my vote for this new, young preacher. We started this journey with him, and today we will see him through to its end. He was my pastor, my friend, my confidant, MY servant leader.
Some people wonder why I was so upset at the news of his passing. I’ve known this man and served under his tutelage most of my life, longer than I knew my own husband. As a matter of fact, he married us. He and my husband Ronnie Lee became very close friends with like character and kindred spirits. They were the only two I would listen to when my “feathers got ruffled.” Theirs was a more biblical perspective with clarity of wisdom, whereas mine could be a little more chaotic and worldly.
I called him one day before New Year’s Eve and said Rev (as we affectionately called him), I want to get married, and he was there on New Year’s Eve 1984 as he always was when you called him. When called to eulogize my stepdaughter, he was there. When called to eulogize my son, he was there. When called to eulogize my husband (his friend), he was there… as tough as that had to be for him. And, he was there sometimes when you didn’t call him. After suffering through a fire in her home, I looked up and saw him walking down the hallway of my mother’s hotel. He said, “I just came to check on you two.” He sat with us for a while, and then off he went. That’s the kind of Pastor he was. He was there for his congregation.
He was a visionary, often having to maneuver through church leadership to accomplish the vision God had laid before him. His ideas were sometimes controversial, such as being the first minister in the City of Peoria to allow women to preach from the pulpit and being on the front lines of the payday loan controversy and the green energy initiative. But, always, always, he stood at the right hand of God. Women can now be found not only in the pulpit but as pastors of churches. Payday loan legislation has been enacted, and he was on the forefront of the action to accomplish this in Illinois. And, the solar energy initiative is ongoing, and he was a big proponent of that initiative.
His arms have outstretched throughout the black community. Many of those who have been ministered to under his tutelage as babes in Christ matured in their Christian walk and went on and are spread throughout the community. They have gone on to be leaders in other respective churches, and his influence is felt at Rising Sun, New Cornerstone, St. Paul, Grace Apostolic, Galilee Baptist, and many other churches. Many of whom received their spiritual awakening under the master teachings of Rev. Alphonso Lyons, Jr.
Mt. Zion, within one year, we’ve taken a big blow to our central leadership when we lost our chairman of the deacon board in Ronnie Lee and now our Pastor. It’s time for us to look forward and build upon the legacy he is leaving and rise from the ashes of the losses that we’ve endured. I pray that you Rev. and the God of love and peace will be with us on this our next journey as we trod forward while keeping your vision for the Church alive in its new leadership. I will miss you, my friend. Rest in peaceful slumber with the elders until we meet again.
With Christian Love,
*Reverend Alphonso Lyons Jr., 72, transitioned from this life to his heavenly home on Tuesday, September 21, 2021