A tribute to Jack and Patricia Collins
MURPHYSBORO – Patricia Collins died just before Easter after a long illness.
I testify as to her influence in Centenary Methodist and the United Methodist Church of Murphysboro. Jack died in 2007. She and Jack Collins were faithful leaders in many areas of our church life, community concerns, United Methodism throughout the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and around the world. They were United Methodist ambassadors in many countries.
He traveled to many countries as a world ambassador with other members of the Board of Global Ministries. For this ministry, many remember him with great appreciation. Jack also served a term as Conference Lay Leader in the former Southern Illinois Conference from 1977 to 1980.
I was their pastor from 1978 to 1982 when they made regular trips to Guatemala. Why did they go? They visited mountain communities and ghettos to encourage the poor. Jack would work hard to make contact with the government leaders as an advocate for the poor. They purchased local handmade worship stoles from the Guatemalan villagers, brought them back to the United States and sold them to pastors. Twice the villagers were financially helped. Patricia and Jack gave dignity to the people. Some of my fellow pastors, with affection, called Jack “Tiki Jack, the Trader.”
Pat – she did not like to be called Pat – managed their nationwide network of selling stoles to pastors and churches. Every year after I left Murphysboro, when I went to Annual Conference, Patricia would have her booth in the hall of the Conference selling those colorful stoles. Wherever you go, and a pastor is wearing a robe, if the stole is multi-colored with an Hispanic flare, it’s probably part of the ministry of Patricia and Jack.
She was a vital supporter of United Methodist Children’s Home in Mt. Vernon, a leader in the Conference United Methodist Women, a local missions spokesperson, a teacher in Murphysboro UMC and an advocate for the poor of all our communities.
She and Jack were active in the political life of Jackson County and for years worked in Carbondale polling places. Their political views did not waver.
I am grateful for the care her son, Peter, provided in her last months. He was an every day presence in her home. Peter and their other sons were special in the lives of Pat and Jack Collins.
It was sad to see Patricia face into silence during her last months. When I served her the sacrament, she would smile but say little. Her faith was reflected in her smile.