Saturday, January 28, 2017

R.I.P. Pastor Jim Riccitelli

On Thursday, January 5th of 2017, Jim Riccitelli was admitted to the hospital due to a bad case of pneumonia.  He was discharged several days later, but his condition worsened and he was taken to the emergency room the following day.  He received the best of care, but his condition continued to worsen, and he passed away in his sleep, early this morning (Saturday, January 28th, 2017).

His wife Ruth is doing as well as can be expected.  She's surrounded by friends, neighbors, and members of her Church.  As I write this, her children are on their way to her home.

Pastor Jim was a great man.  He and Ruth served as missionaries in Burkina Faso, Africa for over ten years, where they ministered to the Red Bobo tribe.  Jim and Ruth had to learn the native language, which is tonal - anything you can say in Red Bobo, you can also whistle - then Jim invented a written language for the tribe as they had none.  He translated the New Testament into Red Bobo and taught the tribe to read.

Upon returning to the United States, Jim started The Berean Fellowship Church in Point Place where he served as Pastor for 25 years.  His sermons included a question and answer session; in other words, if you didn't understand something or you had a question, you could raise your hand in the middle of the sermon and your question would be answered.  All Jim's sermons were teaching sermons, focused on understanding the Word of the Lord.

When he retired, he was called into service at Bethany Community Fellowship Church in Sylvania, Ohio, which is where I met him.  Pastor Jim led me to accept the Lord into my life on Thursday, August 18th, 2005.  I was baptized shortly thereafter, and a few days later Pastor Jim and Ruth agreed to become my godparents.

Pastor Jim retired (his third retirement) and he and Ruth moved to Ft. Meyers, Florida, where Jim was called out of retirement again to serve as minister of music.  In between ministries, he finished his most recent book, Authenticate Your Faith.

I shall miss Pastor Jim terribly, but I'll see him again in Heaven, and I wouldn't wish him back into this lousy world for anything.

Edit: Another writer has posted a missive about Pastor Jim, which you can read here: Remembering Pastor Jim

17 comments:

  1. Beautifully written about my grandpa. During a time when I'm having trouble finding words, yours allowed me to share some of his life with others. Thank you. -Lindsay

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Lindsay. I count it a privilege and a blessing to be able to write about Pastor Jim.

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  2. Like many others from Berean, Jim Riccitelli was our pastor for many years after we all continued our various journeys. The reason I became a missionary to Ireland back in 1989, was that I heard so much about missions from the Riccitelli's from my first days as a Christian. I received the call of God on my life when our whole church visited Beulah Beach at a missionary rally. I never had any desire to be in missions, but with the Riccitelli's example, and call of God on my life, I followed His call into missions. My spiritual life was given a strong foundation through Pastor Jim's teaching and has stood to me over my 45 years as a Christian. I am so glad he is now with Jesus. I know he's delighted. I do pray for Ruth and the rest of the family, though, as they mourn his loss. And yet not as those without hope!!

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    1. Pastor Jim was a great teacher, and I enjoyed every lesson I got from him.

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  3. I remember much about Pastor Jim. I told him once I considered him to be my spiritual father. He and Ruth sat with me at the hospital for hours sharing stories when Julie was having an operation.We our praying for Ruth and the entire family for the peace that surpasses all understanding. Mark, Julie,Alyssa,Jon,Chrissy Stanton

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    1. You couldn't do any better than Pastor Jim for a spiritual father. I'm glad he and Ruth were with you that day.

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  4. Pastor Jim was a wonderful man and ministered to my uncle who lived across the street from Berean Church even though he was not a member. He conducted my Uncle's funeral - when the family choked up singing 'Onward Christian Soldiers' he carried all of us. God bless his family.

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    1. I remember Pastor Jim speaking to me a number of times about your uncle. Jim believed that your uncle accepted Christ as his Savior, and was very happy about that.

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  5. I had the privilege of meeting Pastor Jim & "Grandma" Ruthie at Bethany. He loved teaching the Word & he loved the Lord. I always remember at the end of him speaking that if we had a question or prayer request, to write it down, & he would keep it in his pocket close to his heart. He mixed a perfect blend of Scriptural integrity & divine grace when people disagreed with him. A true model of a Christian man. Will see you one day in our Father's Kingdom. "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."

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  6. Thank you for writing this brief history of Pastor Jim's life. God used him in the lives of so many people all over the world throughout his lifetime, including mine. may the Lord comfort Ruth and those who love him in their loss. He is with His Lord. Right now. Praise the Lord. Jesus is Lord.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Judi.

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  7. Thanks for your kind words. I have made my own remembrance here and linked back to your blog post:
    https://mendicantmonks.org/2017/01/28/remembering-pastor-jim/

    I do hope others follow suit with their sweet remembrances of our dearly loved father in Christ.

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    1. Thank you, Aaron. I'll share your blog post on my site.

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  8. I'm having trouble finding the words to describe what Pastor Jim, and Ruth have meant to me and my husband, Dan. We were newlyweds when we came to Berean, and attended there for 13 years. We always said that they, "grew up up 'good' " (please forgive the awful grammar!) We served in music ministry and Berean was more than a church : it was a family. Pastor Jim was present shortly after the birth of each of our 3 children (actually there before the 'natural' grandparents ever came !) They were parents to us in many ways, as I know they were to countless others. I could go on and on about how they affected our spiritual walk, and the priceless lessons we learned. He was a faithful shepherd. There was none more so,than he. Our hearts weep with Ruth -- our "Mom". Sending our love. Dan & Lois Dietzer

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  9. Please forgive the typo ...what I meant to say was, they "grew us up 'good'. " Apologies for my slip up.

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    1. Words are failing a lot of us just now, Lois. My best to you and your family.

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