W. E. Hightower, Methodist Minister

William Edward Hightower

The Reverend W.E. Hightower of Remerton, Georgia served as the first pastor of the Ray City Methodist Church. He served at Ray City during 1910-1911. According to the history of the Ray City Methodist church, there was no church building in the town during his appointment.  Originally the services were held in a tent on the north side of town near the homestead of Mr. and Mrs. Will Clements.  Among the first members were Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Luckie, Will Terry, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Turner, Mrs. Julia Dudley, Annie Lee Dudley, and Marie Dudley. Later Reverend Hightower held church services in the Masonic Hall.
In 1914, Hightower served as pastor of the Methodist Church at Warwick when a church building was being constructed there. A story is told that Rev. W. E. Hightower walked from the parsonage to the W.D. Etheridge place to pick cotton to pay his part on the new building
Obituary

Butler Herald
December 7, 1950

Rev. W. E. Hightower Claimed By Death Friday Afternoon

Had Made His Home in Butler Since His Retirement Several Years Ago.

Following a long period of declining health, altho confined to his bed at short intervals, laid down to final rest and permanent dwelling place in Heaven, Rev. William E. Hightower breathed his last at his home in Butler Friday afternoon, Dec. 2, the hour of his passing given as 4:05 o’clock.

Rev. Hightower was born April 3, 1879 at Mountville, Ga., the son of the late Mr. Hillard Jones Hightower and Mrs. Frances Elizabeth Hightower. He united with the South Georgia Methodist Conference at its regular annual session December, 1912 from which time until his retirement, due to declining health in December, 1945. During his ministry he served many very fine charges in the conference including two separate appointments at Butler of 2 to 4 years each and six of the nine Methodist churches in Taylor county. His last year with the active ministry in the conference was served at Doerun. Appointments he served included the following: Oakfeld, 1912-13; Nichols, 1914; Valdosta Circuit, 1915; Pineview, 1916; Hamilton Circuit, 1917-18, Howard Circuit, 1919-22; Bronwood, 1923-26; Butler, 1927; Glenville, 1928-29; Uvalda, 1930-31; Butler, 1932-35; Attapulgus, 1936-38; Byronville, 1939-40; Doerun, 1943-44; Retired, 1945. His schooling included, besides grammar and high school in Harris county graduation at Young Harris with the class of 1909 and one year at Vanderbilt.

Upon his retirement from the South Georgia Conference Rev. Hightower purchased and with his lovely and faithful wife, occupying one of the most comfortable homes in Butler. On land adjacent the home he established, more for physical exercise for himself than otherwise, a nursery for the cultivation and sale of floral plants of the highest type and greatest in demand. He loved flowers to the greatest extent as he worked with them as his strength permitted. –t now that he is gone the many fine examples he set by his Godly living and energetic spirit are to be appreciated.

At the Butler Methodist Church Sunday, December 3rd, 1 p. m. was held the funeral services for the departed muchly be loved one followed by interment of the body in the family lot, Hamilton cemetery. Rev. C. W. Hancock, pastor of the local church was in charge of the funeral service and was assisted by the following ministers: Rev. J. Ed Fain, District Superintendent, Columbus District; Rev. T. O. Lambert, assistant pastor, St. Luke church, Columbus, and who joined the conference at the same time as did the deceased, and with whom he has been closely associated ever since; Rev. J. W. M. Stipe Soperton, pastor Butler charge four years previous to 1949; Rev William Childres, Butler. Others occupying the pulpit at the same time were: Rev. W. S. Johnson. Macon County; Rev. W. E. Scott, District Superintendent, Macon D. District; Rev. W. W. Taylor, pastor Reynolds Methodist church; Rev. Ralph Brown, Waverly Hall, Ga.: Rev. Fred Vanlandingham, Smyrna, Ga.

Speaking on behalf of the deceased Rev. C. W. Hancock, pastor of the local church and officiating minister made the following remarks from the pulpit:

“Once again we are in the still and silent presence of death. Yet I am more convinced than ever that for those who love the Lord, death is but the call of God to a larger and fuller life where the limitations of mortal flesh are known no more and the soul rejoices in its liberation. “Did I not already believe in ‘immortality—I would believe today. For a God of infinite power and merciful goodness could do none other than to grant life immortal as the reward for the earthly life of W. E. Hightower. He was blameless in life; devoted to His God; faithful in the ministering of the word; diligent in his service to his fellowman. Many live and pass on—and the world is none the worse off for their going—but not so with our beloved friend. Life will miss him for his usefulness and for the high quality he gave it.

“Immortality is real because already we are beginning to feel the immortality of his earthly life. There are his deeds done that will never be undone. There is the influence shed that will never lose its alluring charm; there is his spoken word that will ever echo in our memory; there are sinners saved who will know sin no more; there are Christians advanced through his inspiration who are attaining unto the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; there are churches with wider visions and larger service that will not fail.

“There is this town and this county. Who among us has done more to bring the Kingdom of God into full fruition in this place than has he° Across a number of years as active pastor of six out of nine Methodist churches in this county and through a number of years as an active superannuate minister he has touched the hearts of men with the healing presence of Christ.

“Many will never forget that he led them to Christ through the illumination of the way. Many will never forget those loving attempts he made to introduce them to Christ and to bring them into the service of Christ’s Church.

“This church will never forget his persistent loyalty, his wise counsel. You men of his Sunday School class will not forget his immortal words from Sunday to Sunday.

“We of the ministry will live in the influence of his moral and spiritual nature and of the consecration to his calling of God. More—God has not forgotten. We are here in the blessed assurance that God has called and issued a welcome summons to this His noble servant. And it can be said of him as it was said of one long ago—‘And he walked with God—and God took him.’ It is the testimony of his life that he pleased both God and man. “As he gave honor to life, he has given dignity to death. In life he testified to the power of religious experience; in death, he declares the church triumphant unto life eternal.

“So may the God of his life be the God of our life that we, like him, can come to the end of the way as one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.”

The floral offering was one of the largest and most elaborate ever witnessed in this section of the state besides a number of memorials in the form of large contributions to the S. S. Annex of the local church and for which Rev. Hightower had been teacher of the Men’s Bible class during the past four years.

The deceased is survived by his widow; one brother, Mr. Claude Hightower of Blairsville, Ga.; two sister, Mrs. Edgar Vandiver, Atlanta; and Miss Aldora Hightower of Mountville. Following funeral service at the local church the body was transferred to Hamilton for interment in the family lot Union cemetery Mr. J. W. Edwards II, of Edwards Bros. Funeral Home was in charge of funeral arrangements.

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