Rev. James Spurgeon McCartt, 96, of Kingsport, Tennessee, died peacefully at Asbury Center at Baysmont on April 10, 2019. Spurgeon was born in Rockwood on March 15, 1923, to the late James S. and Maggie McCartt. He was the beloved husband of the late Virginia Ann (Jan) McCartt for 71 years. He was a popular and effective United Methodist minister for 70 years, and was currently active in First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport. Deeply religious and patriotic, Spurgeon was widely beloved as an engaging teacher, a compelling and eloquent preacher, and a wise and caring counselor. He was known for his good sense of humor, gift of storytelling, and remarkable memory. He loved his family, the United Methodist Church, East Tennessee, and living in the Smoky Mountain foothills.
Spurgeon grew up on a farm in Harriman. After graduating from Harriman High School in 1940, he enrolled in Tusculum University, where he met Jan. According to Spurgeon, the day he met Jan was “the best day of my life.” His education was interrupted when he volunteered to serve in the Navy during WWII. Jan and Spurgeon married on Christmas Eve, 1943. Spurgeon served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946, then returned to Tusculum, graduating in 1947. He earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Duke University Divinity School in 1950 and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Tennessee Wesleyan University in 1972.
Spurgeon was a life-long Methodist. He was ordained as a Deacon of the United Methodist Church in 1949 and as an Elder in 1950, and he became a leader in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church with Jan as his partner. While in Divinity School in North Carolina, he held his first pastoral appointments to Pine Grove Circuit (1946-47) and Butner (1948-49). His first pastoral appointment in Holston Conference was the Caryville-Fincastle Charge (1949-50), followed by associate at Centenary, Chattanooga (1950-52). Pastoral appointments then included minister at Gatlinburg (1952-57); White Oak (1957-62); Washington Pike, Knoxville (1962-67); First, Maryville (1967-73); First Broad Street, Kingsport (1973-81); and First, Oak Ridge (1981-83). He was a district superintendent of the Morristown District during 1983-86. Spurgeon retired from full-time ministry after serving as minister at Fountain City, Knoxville (1986-90). He was a delegate to general conferences (1968, 1970, 1972, 1976) and the 1980 jurisdictional conference, a member of preaching missions in Cuba (1960) and Chile (1965), member of the General Board of Pensions (1972-80), and Trustee of Holston Conference Colleges (1968-76, 1978-80). Spurgeon served the Stratford and Evesham Circuit of the British Methodist Church from 1990-92. After returning to Kingsport from England, he served as chaplain at Baysmont and as interim pastor at many churches in the area, including Depews Chapel, Addilynn, Kendrick Creek, Cassidy, and Vermont. Mostly recently, Spurgeon frequently preached and taught at churches in the area.
In spring 2014, Spurgeon and Jan moved to Baysmont, where they enjoyed the fellowship of many friends. He served as President of the Baysmont Resident Association, and for the past five years he coordinated the Sunday night Vesper services at Baysmont, an important non-denominational ministry for residents and the community.
Spurgeon’s life and faith were heavily influenced by the events of the Great Emory River Flood on March 23, 1929, when his family was miraculously rescued from the roof of their two-story farmhouse on a raft built by Albert Adkisson and Lon Wright. When their house, country store, and barns were washed away, they lived for a time in the Woods Chapel United Methodist Church. Spurgeon recalled his mother singing “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” at church on the Sunday following his family’s rescue. Throughout his life, Spurgeon planted many maple trees in honor of the large maple tree that helped keep his house standing prior to his family’s rescue.
Spurgeon was an avid reader, especially enjoying biographies and books about history, theology, and world events. He loved to garden and always had large flower and vegetable gardens. After his retirement, he loved to play golf and enjoyed games through this past October. He was proud of his degrees from Tusculum and Duke, and both Jan and he were devoted, enthusiastic fans of the Duke Blue Devils, especially the basketball team. He closely followed Duke’s run in the 2019 NCAA March Madness. Jan and he traveled extensively throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East. They had a wide circle of friends and cherished the fellowship of other Methodist ministers and their wives.
Spurgeon was father of Peg Hess (Howard), Anne McCartt (Michael Curcio), and Jim McCartt; grandfather of Jeremy Hess (Leili Besharat), Kristen Hess (John Fumbanks), Chris Curcio (Katie), and Sara Scoles (Matt); and great-grandfather of Clementine and Bennett Hess, Taylor Goldstein, Lexi and Rachel Fumbanks, and Emilia and Molly Scoles. Preceded in death by his brother, Calvin Moody McCartt (Dorothy, deceased). Brother-in-law of Katherine McDaniel (Edgar, deceased), Betty Lee Thompson (Charlie, deceased), and Hugh M. Taylor, deceased (Willie Love, deceased). Remembered with love by nieces and nephews Betsy Boyer, Bill McDaniel, David Thompson, Linda Baber, Jana Jensen, Kathy Love Erickson, Mary Weyant, Bobby McCartt, and their families.
Spurgeon’s family deeply appreciates the concern and support during his recent illness from his friends at Baysmont; the First Broad Street United Methodist Church clergy, parish nurse, and parishioners; other friends; and caregivers.
The graveside service will be at 3:00 pm on Saturday, April 13, 2019, at Oak Hill Memorial Park. A memorial service will be held at 3:00 pm on Sunday, April 14, 2019, at First Broad Street United Methodist Church with The Rev. Randy Frye and The Rev. Jack Weikel officiating. The family will receive friends at the church following the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to First Broad Street United Methodist Church, 100 E. Church Circle, Kingsport, TN 37660 (https://fbsumc.org/give.html) or to Camp Bays Mountain, a United Methodist retreat ministry serving Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, at 1435 S’mores Trail, Kingsport, TN 37660 (http://www.campbaysmountain.com/capital-campaign-1).