March 9, 1927 – July 9, 2021
Rev. Dr. John E. Roberts was born March 9, 1927 in Bryant, Mississippi. He got his clearance to take off at 2:30 a.m. on July 9,2021. He was the son of George and Melvina Roberts. He had three siblings Mattie (Roberts) McClain, Anne Gertrude-Adams and Brother Alex Loggins, all of whom preceded him in death. His early education was in Mississippi. At 12 years old he accepted Christ and was baptized. He worked with his grandfather, who was a sharecropper. His grandfather called him preacher growing up.
After his grandfather passed, at the age of 17, he came to Toledo, OH to be with his mother. He finished his high school education in Toledo, attending Scott and graduating from Libbey High School. He was employed at Woolworth’s, Martin Box, Toledo Steel and Tube and Toledo Public Schools, where he retired as a bus driver.
He was united in holy matrimony to Bernice Thompson on April, 6, 1950. Pastor said he liked the way she would pat her foot in church. To this union three sons were born: Rev. Dr. Derrick E. Roberts, Rev. Jeffrey J. Roberts and Tracey B. Roberts. Pastor and Mother Roberts celebrated 71 years of marriage on April 6, 2021.
Pastor Roberts loved to tell stories about his baseball expertise with his friends John Butts, Charles McDaniel and Willie Perryman Sr. They ruled Swayne Field’s baseball diamond. He also had a killer left hook and he played center on his basketball team.
Pastor Roberts’ faithfulness and dedication has been demonstrated by the various roles he has accomplished at the Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, along with his commitment to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has been an active member of Indiana since its organization in February 1946, where he was a founding member. He has served and walked in the footsteps of most positions in the church, from custodian to Pastor. He received his divine call to preach in September 1962 and he was called to Pastor on the third Sunday in January 1965.
He graduated from the Toledo Bible College and was Valedictorian of his class for Bachelor of Arts in Religious Education in 1975; he received a Master of Theology in 1984 and his Doctorate in Biblical Theology in 1985.
As a Pastor, he has fed the flock and encouraged them to be effective soul winners. As a result, membership grew from around 60 to thousands.
As a Teacher, he has opened the eyes of many who were stumbling in spiritual darkness and led them to the light through his preaching and the Bible study of the Word of God. Under his leadership, the Christian Board of Education was organized, and the positions of Director and Advisor of Christian Education were created. Other auxiliaries organized under his leadership are Junior Church, Couples Fellowship, Singles Fellowship, Widows Fellowship, Recreation Department, Youth and Young Adult Departments and many others.
As a Preacher, he preached purity of heart and baptism to all true believers; his speech and his preaching were not just the words of man’s wisdom, but a demonstration of the Spirit and of the power of God in the man. All the most important successes of his life were the results of upright living and prevailing prayer. Rev. Dr. John Roberts tried to live what he preached.
He saved numerous marriages, curtailed many youngsters from leaving home and has sent a lot of youngsters back home; helped countless others deal with bereavement and illness.
He has been instrumental in moving the congregation from the basement to the upper level, then into the present sanctuary, which he designed and later the building of the Stephenson-Roberts Fellowship Hall. When Pastor Roberts was first elected Pastor, the church had no parking facilities, but under his administration we purchased over thirty-nine (39) houses to provide the church with four existing parking lots. Later accomplishments have been the building of the Stephenson-Roberts Fellowship Hall and the establishment of the Hall of Farmers.
Christ-like in devotion: strong in faith and mighty in prayer. His life, with its results, is a never-failing inspiration and challenges people of all ages and races, creating strong men around him.
Not only has Pastor Roberts been a leader in the church, but he has given a religious aspect to the community. Our Pastor, Rev. Dr. Roberts has received numerous accolades and recognitions through the years, resolutions, and commendations from local, state, and federal officials. He has walls full of plaques, shelves of gifts and three keys to the City of Toledo.
He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings, son Rev. Dr. Derrick E. Roberts and grandson John Jeffery Roberts. He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving wife and friend of 71 years Mother Bernice, sons Rev. Jeffery and Tracy, daughters, Deborah and Crystal, grandchildren Jeremy, Jelise, Juston, Traci, Teontré, Darius and five great-grandchildren, and a host of beloved nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, great-great nieces and nephews, cousins, church family, adopted family and kind friends.
Special thanks to St. Anne’s Progressive Center, Ebeid Hospice, Ohioans Home Health Care nurses, Rev. Dr. Willie Perryman, Jerrilynn Hodges, Paul and Mother Sue Lee, Phyliss Robinson, Letha and Robert Goree, Herman Thomas, Jim Johnson and Elmore Sturdivant.