EDWARDS ~ Pastor Edwards born the 15th day of October 1926, was the first-born of two children unto the union of Isadore, Sr. and Rebecca Edwards. He transitioned from this life to eternity October 31, 2020.
He and Elizabeth Hardy were united in Holy matrimony the 11th day of October, 1959 at The Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, the late Doctor Robert H. Wilson, Sr., Officiant. Together they raised three children; Brenda, Jerome and Debra.
On April 4, 1945, he answered his country’s call to duty in military service when he joined the United States Army. He served his country faithfully, received an Honorable Discharge and was awarded the World War II Victory Medal. With the exception of time spent abroad in military service, he resided in his native town of Jacksonville, Florida, Fort Myers, Florida and Fort Worth, Texas.
Early in life, Pastor Edwards felt God’s call to him to preach the Gospel; however, he initially rejected it. After much resistance and wrestling with the Holy Spirit, he finally gave in and accepted the call to become God’s faithful servant. He loved to tell and often told the story of while lying in bed one night, an actual pulpit/podium descended from the sky, thus confirming God’s call of what He wanted him to do. His first sermon, “Whom Shall I Fear”, was delivered October 8, 1957 at Saint John Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. He was licensed to preach and ordained at Bethel Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida, Doctor Robert H. Wilson, Sr.
Pastor Edwards was a strong advocate of education and he believed that you must always study to show yourself approved. In his quest to be socially prepared and to achieve spiritual excellence, Pastor Edwards obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Physical Education from the historic Bethune Cookman University, Daytona Beach, Florida, a bachelor’s degree in Religious Education from Florida Memorial College, St. Augustine, Florida and a Master of Divinity Degree from Stetson University, Deland, Florida. In response to his lifelong theological pursuit, he received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Florida University. These accomplishments, awards, plaques, proclamations and much more, too numerous to list, paled in comparison and was considered secondary to the call that God placed on his life.
During the Civil Rights movement, Pastor Edwards served as President of the NAACP, Fort Myers, Florida. He participated in several movements and he had the privilege of knowing and working with the late Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King.
In 1961, Pastor Edwards received God’s call to become pastor of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Fort Myers, Florida. In 1972, he accepted God’s call to lead and pastor His people who were assembling at The New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
Pastor Edwards enjoyed making a difference in the life of others, he was always the first to give and set the example for others. He implemented numerous ministries which included: The Caring Community, established to provide assistance to less fortunate individuals within the community; Dependency Elimination Program (DEP), designed to help individuals struggling with various addictions; Helping Others Perform Equally Inc. (HOPE), provided students with afterschool tutoring and mentoring; The Raymond B. Spencer Scholarship Fund (RBSSF), assisted students with college tuition and was created in honor of the late Reverend Doctor Raymond B. Spencer, one of his beloved assistants, also, the first fulltime African American Professor at Southwestern Theological Seminary.
Pastor Edwards also served concurrently as Executive Director of the National Baptist Convention of America Foreign Mission Board, Inc. International. He tirelessly labored to raise funds for missionary work in the foreign fields of Haiti, Jamaica, Virgin Islands, Panama and Ghana, West Africa. He boldly went to underserved areas bringing the good news of Jesus Christ, physical sustenance, educational supplies, health and theological training and supplies. While “On Assignment”, he preached the Gospel to all within his reach, as he was commanded to do (John 20:21). ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’. He was occasionally accompanied by members of The New Rising Star Church. They were often church sponsored and also privileged to witness the “good News” of the Plan of Salvation of God’s goodness, mercy and grace.
Pastor Edwards’ legacy of service, dedication to God, the church and to educational excellence has provided a strong foundation for a spiritually-mature bible-based church, numerous sons in the ministry and countless other individuals. To those under his tutelage, leadership and direction, he continuously stressed: “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. (II Timothy 2:15-16NLT)
Pastor Edwards was a God-sent preacher, pastor and teacher who was unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His boldness in proclaiming what “thus saith the Lord” gained him national prominence and prestige. He was a preacher’s preacher and a giant in the ministry. He was revered as one of the most prolific proclaimers of the Gospel in our time. But by the Grace of God, he continued to remain humble to the task.
Pastor Edwards was an avid reader and diligent seeker of God’s word. He possessed an abundance of knowledge in vast areas and on various subjects. He could always be found with his nose stuck in a book, evidenced by the massive collection of books in his personal library. He personally “penned” well over 10,000 God inspired, intellectually sound, thought-provoking, mind-stimulating and soul-searching sermons. He was fashion forward, eloquent in dress and was known for literally giving the shirt off his back. He had many hobbies but, he had a passion for golfing and was always eager to play a round. He enjoyed bowling, boating and fishing and could cook a “mean” gumbo.
Pastor Edwards retired after forty-four years of faithful service to The New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in December 2015. A full to capacity church worshiped and praised the Lord during his retirement celebration January 10, 2016. As Pastor Emeritus, although failing in health, still preached occasionally at his home church and he also accepted invitations and preaching engagements as they were extended to him. Always preaching Prayer, Praise and Proclamation, “from the rising of the sun, unto the going down of the same”; he delivered his final sermon titled “He Made Us to Fellowship With Him” in June 2019 at his home church.
He was preceded in death by son, Jerome Edwards; both parents; grandparents, Martha Edwards and Annie White; brother, Andrew Edwards.
Pastor Edwards leaves to mourn his memory and homegoing, his loving and devoted wife of sixty years, Elizabeth, fondly known as Pat; daughters, Brenda Edwards & Deborah Dawson; grandchildren & great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Annie Mae Edwards; nephew, Andrew Lee Edwards; niece, Andrea Elizabeth Edwards; godson, Terry Fields; other relatives, fellow clergy, friends, his beloved The New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church family and his canine companion, “Prince”.
Pastor Edwards answered God’s final call, summoning him from labor to reward at his home in Fort Worth, Texas October 31, 2020. Good Night, God’s good and faithful servant, sleep well and we’ll see you in the morning Edwards.
Celebration of Life Service for Pastor Isadore Edwards will be 11:00 AM, Friday, November 13, 2020, at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, 215 Bethel Baptist Street, Bishop Rudolph W. McKissick, Jr., Lead Pastor; Bishop Rudolph W. McKissick, Sr., Pastor Emeritus. Interment 2:30 PM Monday, November 16, 2020, at Jacksonville National Cemetery. Because of the love of his family, arrangements entrusted to J. E. Fralin & Sons Funeral & Cremation Services, 5065 Soutel Dr, 904.924.9400.
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