Evangelist Junior Hill remembered as powerful preacher, selfless follower of Christ

Funeral set for Tuesday at Westmeade Baptist Church in Decatur, Ala.


HARTSELLE, Ala. — Southern Baptist evangelist Junior Hill is being remembered as a powerful gospel preacher and a selfless follower of Christ who preached in churches throughout the Bible Belt and beyond for nearly 70 years.

Hill died Wednesday at his home in Hartselle, Ala. He was 87.

“I believe he was the greatest church evangelist of our day," said former Southern Baptist Convention President Jerry Vines, one of Hill's contemporaries in ministry and a close friend. "He was remarkable, really."

Gerald Harris, former editor of The Christian Index and a longtime Southern Baptist pastor in whose churches Hill often preached, said the evangelist is going to be sorely missed.

“Junior Hill’s life was marked by a gracious, selfless, humble, Christ-like spirit,” said Gerald Harris, former editor of The Christian Index and a longtime pastor in whose churches Hill often preached. “He was a powerful, effective, soul-winning preacher because God’s anointing was on his life in full measure. His self-deprecating, Christ-exalting messages won the favor of every generation.”

Hill, a sought-after speaker at state-level pastors’ conferences and annual meetings, is credited with preaching in more than 1,700 revivals and camp meetings over his career. He was a regular in Georgia churches but also preached evangelistic campaigns around the world.

Georgia evangelist Jon Reed said Hill always made time to help young evangelists.  Reed said one of his first calls when he felt led to go into full-time evangelism 25 years ago was to Hill, who offered advice and encouragement.

“I’ll never forget the initial investment he made in me when he didn’t even know me,” said Reed, now president of the group Georgia Baptist Evangelists. “His ministry was built on glorifying Jesus, and that’s it.”

An Alabama native, Hill began his ministry at 19 years old. He served 11 years as a pastor in his home state and in Mississippi before turning his full attention to evangelism in 1967.

Georgia-based evangelist Rick Gage called Hill a gifted church evangelist.

"He preached the Gospel with simplicity and authority," Gage said. "He had a passion to reach the lost. Tens of thousands of souls will be in heaven because of his faithful obedience."

Barry Snapp, pastor of Victory Baptist Church Rockmart, said of Hill in a social media post, “What a man!”

“He was always so kind and encouraging to me,” Snapp said. “He preached simple messages and people got saved. Now he’s in Glory!”

Brad Waters, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hazlehurst, said he committed his life to Christ after hearing Hill preach at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker in 1993.

“To me, he’ll always be a great preacher who preached a great Savior,” Waters said.

His home-state newspaper, the Alabama Baptist, heralded Hill’s ministry in an article on Thursday.

Sammy Gilbreath, retired director of the office of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, described Hill as a harvester of souls.

“There are untold numbers in the Kingdom today due to his personal soul-winning, his encouraging message for others to be faithful sharing their faith and his harvest of souls due to his anointed preaching,” Gilbreath said.

Hill earned a bachelor’s degree from Samford University in Birmingham and a master’s degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, which named him Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 1995.

Hill, who wrote 17 books during his career, received a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and was also awarded a doctor of divinity degree from Covington Seminary in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, told the Alabama Baptist that he was a teenager when he first met Hill and was “amazed at how much interest he had in my life and ministry.”

“Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists have lost a giant of the faith — a man who made a difference in so many people’s lives,” Lance told the newspaper. “Yet he was always humble, never haughty. Junior gave all the glory to God for his ministry.”

Hill is survived by his wife of 66 years, Carole; son, Mark; daughter, Melanie; and five grandchildren.

His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Westmeade Baptist Church in Decatur, Ala. Burial will be Salem Cemetery in Hartselle with Peck Funeral Home directing. Visitation begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the church.