Lester Darnell Stone was born on January 20, 1951 to Louis Clinton Stone and Viola Washington Stone in Nashville, Tennessee. After extraordinary serve to the Lord, his church and the Greater Lansing community, God called His good and faithful servant home to glory on Wednesday, March 31, 2010.
In 1960, he professed faith in Christ and then God called Reverend Stone to the ministry at the age of 18 and he was licensed to preach in 1969. Initially, he wanted to be a journalist and baseball player, but God had a greater plan. Reverend Stone was ordained as a Baptist Minister by Reverend James Armstrong at the First Street Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, July,1970.
His pastoral experience began as Assistant Minister at Carroll Street Chapel. Carroll Street was a predominately white congregation and sought Pastor Stone's leadership in efforts to diversify. The church's minority membership increased by more than 100 in the first year of his tenure.
In December of 1971, he was united in holy matrimony to Carolyn Diane Ward. To that union one son, Lester II, was born. Reverend Stone and his devoted wife Carolyn moved to Lansing in June of 1982. He was installed as pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, currently located at 2912 Pleasant Grove Road, one month later.
A brilliant and humble man, Reverend Stone never boasted of his accomplishments, although there were many. An abbreviated chronology of his life includes:
- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Belmont College in 1973. He graduated Magna Cum Laude.
- Master of Divinity Degree from Vanderbilt University in 1976
- Honorary Doctorate Degree in 1993 from Dallas Baptist Christian College.
1978 - 1982: Pastored Morning Star Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
1982 - 2010: Pastored Friendship Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan. Under his leadership Friendship Baptist Church moved into their new church facility on Sunday, June 15, 2003, a multi-million dollar church home.
- Founder and moderator of the Capital City District Missionary Baptist Association.
- President of the Black Pastors of Lansing.
- Leader of the March for Justice, civil rights organization that contributed to electing the first Black Prosecuting Attorney in Ingham County.
- Established an Independent Investigator of the Lansing Police Department
- Established a Police Community Relations Conference
- Raised the awareness to hire more minorities in the Lansing Police Department
- He was a candidate for the 4th Ward City Council seat.
- A Life member of the NAACP and served as the second Vice-President. He also served on the Education Committee of the NAACP.
- Member of the Black Religion and Spirituality Committee at Michigan State University.
- He played a key leadership role in naming Logan Street in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- He received the outstanding Social and Political Leadership Award from the Michigan Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
- He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Black Child and Family Institute; the Single Parent Institute; Camp Highfield; and on the Advisory Committee of the First of America Bank (National City Bank)
He has also lectured at Michigan State University, National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, The Detroit Law School, American Baptist College of American Baptist Theological Seminary, Lansing Community College and many churches and other institutions of higher learning.
Reverend Stone was an established writer who wrote extensively. He published articles in the Lansing State Journal and Interjournal Group of Human Relations. He submitted a manuscript to the Library of Congress for copyright. He wrote the adult Sunday School Quarterly and Commentary, plus Master Teacher booklets and devotions for both the National Baptist Publishing Board and Sunday School Publishing Board. He has also written several books, yet to be published - “The Holy Spirit 24/7”, “The Penny Principle”, and “Getting Closer to God”.
Reverend Stone loved the Lord, his family and church. He enjoyed preaching and teaching. He believed in fighting for and helping the “least of these”. He continued to raise questions about justice and fairness in our society.
He leaves to mourn his passing wife, Dr. Carolyn Stone and son, Lester D. Stone II, both of Lansing; sisters, Dorothy Stone, Dianne Williams and Jewel (Ronald) Swanson, all of Nashville, Tennessee; brothers Louis Stone and Jerry (Vickie) Stone of Nashville, Tennessee; sister-in-law Bernadine (Ronald) Peaks, brother-in-law Robert (Joyce) Ward III of Nashville, Tennessee, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and awesome friends. Reverend Stone was preceded in death by his parents.
This was originally printed in the April 11 - April 24, 2010 edition.