This week, Community of Hope celebrates the life of one of our founding members, John K. Lunsford. John passed away on August 3, 2016 after a courageous battle with cancer.
Our founder, Tom Nees, shared memories of John’s role in our early days. Tom served as John’s pastor and their conversations often gravitated to how they and the church might respond to the needs in impoverished neighborhoods in the city.
“Those conversations encouraged me to write out a vision statement that I thought so subversive that, for a while, I shared it only with him – on one occasion in a secluded area of the National Gallery of Art where we were certain no one would overhear or could record our conversation.
That statement became the document around which John and I and a few others formed a group that was the origin of the Community of Hope Church in 1975 and the Community of Hope, Inc., in 1980.”
John brought his private law practice as a public defender into the Community of Hope. At one time, the Law Office included four additional attorneys who like John used their vocations in service to people in need of legal aid. John helped us create the first low-income multi-family housing cooperative in Washington, DC., in a building on Belmont St., that remains home to some of the original families.
John also met the love of his life when Beverly Koehler joined Community of Hope to start our first adolescent health clinic and eventually serve as our Director of Health Services. The impact of their service can still be seen in COH's holistic approach for families in difficult circumstances.
As Tom states, “John practiced law as a means to an end. His life’s work, his legacy inspired by his faith, was to serve others. We knew he was not in it for himself. During our years at the Community of Hope, challenged as we were by a vision that always exceeded our limited resources, John set an example of selfless courage. We will always remember John for his confidence that the cause to which we were committed was worth our best efforts.”
On behalf of hundreds of volunteers and staff who followed in your footsteps and the thousands of families who have benefited from that original vision, Community of Hope honors John’s legacy of compassion and service to others.
A memorial service for John Lunsford is scheduled for Saturday August 13 at 1pm at College Park Church of the Nazarene, 9704 Rhode Island Ave, College Park, MD.
Caption: Pictured above founding COH members, James Woody, Pat and Tom Nees, John and Beverly Lunsford and Vernon Oakes in 2014 at the Conway Health and Resource Center opening.