Rev. Jim Chambly

[Age 62] The Methodist tried to make the church relevant to young and old.

March 28, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

The Rev. Jim Chambly Jr., a United Methodist Church pastor who regarded young people as crucial to his ministry, died Thursday of an apparent heart attack at his Essex home. He was 62.

Born James Wellington Chambly Jr. in Baltimore and raised in Violetville, he was a 1962 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, where he was a marching band drum major. He was also active in the Boy Scouts and community baseball. He earned a psychology degree at what is now Towson University.

"He told me at 12 years old, he felt he wanted to be a minister," said his wife, the former Mary Ann Thomas, whom he met on a New Years' Eve blind date at a South Baltimore parsonage. "He had his goals in mind."

He attended the Wesley Seminary in Washington and was ordained in 1967. He was later assigned to United Methodist churches -Providence in Towson, Back River, Good Shepherd in South Baltimore and Graceland near Dundalk.

He believed that he could reach youths by coaching basketball, soccer and softball teams. He was a past president of the Patapsco Neck Norwood Recreation League.

"Throughout his ministry, Jim's vision was to keep the church relevant to the present time and emerging generations," his wife said. "He believed in being a vital part of the community in which he was living."

He also served at Asbury United Methodist in Charles Town, W.Va. - whose parsonage of 13 rooms handily accommodated his five children. In 2000, he was assigned to the Essex United Methodist, where he had been married in 1975. He was serving there at the time of his death

"Jim was a jokester. His goal was not to be prim and proper. He'd rather laugh," said the Rev. David Deans, a friend who is pastor of Back River United Methodist Church. "He did not fit a stern, straight-laced image. He was articulate, and while he was orthodox in his faith, he was never legalistic."

Mr.. Deans said Mr. Chambly's down-to-earth ways helped him reach the unaffiliated and young people.

"His fresh approach helped him to connect with people who otherwise may not have entered a church," Mr. Deans said.

He recalled that Mr. Chambly once ended a sermon in rhymed, rap-style couplets. He was also a proponent of contemporary church music and alternate styles of worship.

Mr. Chambly had been planning to accompany a group to a Youth for Christ rally in Ocean City. He died the day before the planned trip.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at Essex United Methodist Church, 524 Maryland Ave., Essex.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons, Stephen Jenkins of Elkhart, Ind., and David Jenkins of Essex; three daughters, Debbie James of Winchester, Va., Denise Jackson of Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Karen Carroll of Inwood, W.Va.; and 13 grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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