Remembering Jimmy Turner

Jimmy Turner
Jimmy Turner

On January 21, 2023, Jimmy Turner went home to be with the Lord after a life of ministry. Our hearts have been full as we reflect on Jimmy’s life, faith, and legacy, both within and outside of RUF. 

In the early 1970s, Jimmy Turner, Mark Lowery, and others began discussing ideas about a Reformed, biblically-based campus ministry, laying the foundation for Reformed University Fellowship. Jimmy established the RUF ministry at the University of Mississippi in 1978, the third campus ministry in RUF’s early years. He served with RUF for a decade, held pastoral roles at many churches in the Southeast, and ministered to medical and college students in Jackson, MS. 

God’s work in and through Jimmy is one of the many ways we’ve seen God’s faithfulness to RUF over the past 50 years. RUF Founder Mark Lowrey shared,

“Many people came to Christ and grew in their understanding and love of Christ because of Jimmy’s ministry and focus on the Scripture. He was a faithful man of God.”

Countless RUF alumni and staff were among those reached by Jimmy’s decades of ministry. 

Jimmy spent much of his life serving in Mississippi. RUF Area Coordinator Richie Sessions said, “Everywhere I go in Mississippi, there is someone who has been impacted by the ministry of Jimmy Turner.” Les Newsom, former Campus Minister at Ole Miss and current Senior Pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Oxford, MS, agreed, sharing,

“You would be hard-pressed to find another person in the state of Mississippi who has a larger ministry footprint than Jimmy.” 

Tara Gibbs, a former RUF Intern, recounted Jimmy’s daughter inviting her to the RUF that he started at Ole Miss, where Tara came to know the Lord. Tara and her husband, Tom Gibbs, now President of Covenant Seminary, went on to plant RUF at Baylor University.

One of the things that Jimmy is known for is how he mentored younger pastors and ministry staff. Rod Mays, RUF National Coordinator Emeritus, shared, “Jimmy Turner lived relational ministry and what it meant to go long and deep with people.” Caroline Capper and Bentley Crawford, both currently serving with RUF, were among many who were discipled by Jimmy in the last years of his life. 

Caroline, who serves as Campus Staff at the University of South Carolina, recalled meeting Jimmy when she was a student at Belhaven.

“Jimmy played a huge role in my coming to the Reformed faith and becoming a RUF intern. I could write a book about him. But to keep this as brief as I can, I’ll just say that the world won’t be the same without Jimmy Turner. He was such a dear man.”

Bentley, Campus Minister at Belhaven University, shared, “I had the privilege of knowing Jimmy in his final years when I served as an intern at our local medical school’s CMDA. He would reach out and provide mentorship to me, as he had recently retired from a lengthy tenure as the founder of that ministry. More recently as he served alongside me on campus at Belhaven. His final years were spent working as the part-time FCA Campus Minister here at his alma mater. He was a sweet man of God who loved students and wanted them to know Jesus, love His word, and walk with Him in love toward others. As a younger minister, I was thankful for someone who was interested in asking me questions, listening to me, and encouraging me. Grateful for His life and witness and thankful to know He is now with our Savior that He spent so many years helping others to know!”

Will you join us in praising God for how he used Jimmy’s life and ministry to impact many lives with the Gospel? And will you pray with us for his family and loved ones who grieve his passing? 

Read Jimmy’s full obituary here.