Joseph Lowry Alexander

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1829 - 1906


The venerable and beloved Rev. J. L. Alexander, who entered into everlasting rest at his home in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday, August 18, at 8:05 a.m., had completed more than a half-century in the Christian ministry, and had spent this time without interruption as a member of a single presbytery, that of Lebanon (the old Nashville Presbytery). For nearly twenty years he was pastor of the church nearest his birthplace and in which for fifty years his father was an elder; and for some years just before his death, he had been a presbyterial missionary; giving his entire time to pastorless churches and those needing encouragement.

Joseph Lowry Alexander was born May 26, 1829, near Mt. Juliet, Wilson county, Tenn. His grandfather, George Alexander, was a soldier under General Greene in the Revolution. His father, who made a profession of religion in the first camp meeting ever held in North Carolina, in 1800, and soon afterward joined the Presbyterian church, used to say of himself that he was a Cumberland Presbyterian before our church was organized, "believing and realizing that there was a fullness of grace and love in Jesus Christ and the atonement he made, to save the world, if the world would only come to him." On October 4, 1842, at the age of thirteen, Mr. Alexander professed religion at a camp meeting held at Cloyd's camp ground, near Mt. Juliet, under the ministry of Robert Donnell. On the following day he was received into the church. In 1851 he became a candidate for the ministry; in 1852 he was licensed to preach. In 1853 he spent nine months "riding the circuit." He graduated from Cumberland University in 1856, and was ordained in October of that year.

The chronicle of his fifty years in the ministry is one of faithful and blessed service. In the church courts where the writer oftenest saw him, he was no disputer, though sometimes his voice was heard in earnest and clear argument on some question in which he felt vitally interested. As his years increased his gentleness of demeanor grew more marked until his very presence seemed a rebuke to any false pride. He possessed all the courage that belongs to his sacred office; bent upon speaking the truth in love, he was never known to decline any difficult task of interfering among disputers, settling church quarrels, or presiding over warring factions to bring them into harmony. He never referred to himself as a man of long acquaintance with the affairs of the presbytery and its churches. He placed himself, for what he was, entirely at all men's service. His brethren in the ministry rejoice in their memories of him and in their assurance of his triumph over death.

Mr. Alexander was married on August 4, 1858, to Miss Sarah J. Woods. Their living children are Mrs. William Alford, Miss Sallie Alexander, Mr. B. G. Alexander, Miss Eugenia Alexander and Miss Adah Alexander. Miss Sallie Alexander is known as one of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church's best workers in its Japan Mission since 1894, and Mr. B. G. Alexander has given his life to the work of the Young Men's Christian Association, being now general secretary of the Y.M.C.A. of Memphis, Tenn. Miss Eugenia Alexander is lady principal of a college for girls in Alabama, the youngest daughter, Miss Adah, being bursar of Belmont College in Nashville.

The funeral service was held in Grace Church, Nashville, to which the members of his family belonged. The pastor, Rev. W. B. Holmes, presided, Rev. Drs. Tinnon, Landrith, and McKamy participating. The audience taxed the capacity of the church, so many there are who, grateful for the life he lived and the personal service he rendered them, desired to thus honor his memory.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, August 23, 1906, page 245]

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