George WM Thompson Jr., 90, of Philadelphia, founder and former senior pastor of New Horizon Baptist Church, longtime associate professor of philosophy at East Stroudsburg University, author and mentor, died Friday, July 29 of a failure to thrive at Ambler Extended Care Center.
Reverend Thompson founded New Horizon in Philadelphia in May 1981 and served as a moral compass and senior pastor until his retirement in 2008. Dedicated to family and community outreach as well as religious education, he invited other congregations to worship at New Horizon, and his sermons often addressed issues and concerns that affected his listeners in their daily lives.
“He cared for others before he cared for himself,” said Geraldine Bryant, a longtime friend and carer. “He did so many things. It was a great pleasure for me to know him. »
Reverend Thompson served earlier in churches in West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio and, from 1975 to 1981, at Providence Baptist Church in Germantown. Organized, focused and determined throughout his life, he established the Providence Baptist Federal Credit Union and, in both Providence and New Horizon, established a Saturday school for young congregants, built a food bank and provided a 24-hour spiritual helpline.
He also married couples in his East Mount Airy home and founded and funded the George W. Thompson Jr. Foundation and Scholarship Fund which recognized students for significant achievement and academic progress. For establishing the foundation, he received a 2000 Martin Luther King Jr. Award from East Stroudsburg.
In an online tribute, his family said Reverend Thompson “systematically offered a multidimensional program to care for the whole person and sensitized them to the adverse conditions of people in their mission fields while responding to them.” He was, a friend said in an online tribute, “a gentleman, a scholar and a philanthropist. He valued education, morals and values.
The Reverend Thompson began teaching philosophy at East Stroudsburg in 1972, celebrated his 35th birthday in the classroom in 2007 and retired as a “humble man of integrity with a great sense of humor,” said a former student. Later, he served the Ohio Board of Regents as a consultant and evaluator of master’s and doctoral programs for accreditation in religious and theological studies for colleges, universities, and seminaries in the state.
“As a young student, he inspired me to think thoughtfully and critically about myself, my relationship with God, and my participation in the human family,” a former student said in an online tribute. “His life was a testament to his scholarship, his theology and his compassion for the most vulnerable.”
A visiting professor and visiting lecturer at Trenton State College, now the College of New Jersey, and at Harvard and Fordham universities, Reverend Thompson published Technology and human flourishing, an examination of the link between religion and technical sciences, in 1985. East Stroudsburg presents the annual Dr. George Thompson Jr. Award in his honor to recognize “outstanding achievement or life achievement in the areas of community and human relations.”
Born October 12, 1931 in Richmond, Virginia, Reverend Thompson was the son of a pastor. A curious and studious young man who often preferred reading to playing, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University, a master’s degree in theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, and a doctorate in philosophical ethics from the University of Chicago.
He also received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Martha’s Vineyard Theological Seminary in Massachusetts in 1994 for “his contributions to multicultural theological education and pastoral leadership.” He met Sarah Walden at Sharon Baptist Church in Richmond, and they married and had a daughter Sarita. His wife and daughter died earlier.
Reverend Thompson and his family moved to Philadelphia in the early 1970s, and he kept an apartment in East Stroudsburg during the school year. He was an avid reader, seeking intellectual conversations with those around him and hosting family gatherings.
“He was so committed to everyone who came to the meetings that he collected their receipts and paid all the expenses,” said his niece, Chalmer Thompson. His nephew, Guy Thompson, said: “He could be serious and passionate about a topic and then show his lighter side with a joke.”
Reverend Thompson had long cared for his daughter, brother and grandmother and traveled often to visit family in Virginia and Florida. He underwent heart surgery in the early 1990s.
“He loved people,” his nephew said, “and gave a lot of his time.”
In addition to his niece and nephew, Reverend Thompson is survived by a sister, two brothers and other relatives. Two brothers died earlier.
Services were August 19.