The only pastor I could remember prior to moving to Jackson, Mississippi in 1975 was my father. My younger brother and I were used to seeing my dad in the pulpit and my mom at the organ. But when we made the big move to Jackson, lots of things changed. Some of the changes took longer than others to embrace, but one was immediately welcomed. That was the pastoral ministry of Jay Bybee.
Jay and Norma were a real team, and their children, Greg and Beverly, were among our first good friends. Today, I pay tribute along with, and on behalf of my brother, Jeffrey. Jay Bybee’s ministry at Jackson First still stands out as likely its best days as a church. His sermons were just like he was. You could count on straightforward, clear exposition with just enough humor and an occasional tear. His sermons helped us draw closer to God and to each other.
He was also a great friend to my father in those early days as a younger than usual district superintendent… And he was also a friend to Dr. Charles Johnson in Meridian, MS, when the lingering effects of racism still reared its head from time to time. Loyalty is in short supply these days, but it was never a problem for Jay.
I didn’t see Jay in his later years, but I still see him in my mind’s eye. A tall, distinguished man whose wisdom ran deeper than his self-deprecating humor often allowed folks to see. He was a true pastor! My life is richer, as are the lives of hundreds today, who had the privilege of calling Jay Bybee their pastor.