A service to celebrate Rev. Black’s life will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31 at First United Methodist Church of Metropolis with Bishop William B. Lewis, Rev. Bob Edwards, Rev. Jon Cockrel and Rev. Jeff Bealmear officiating. Internment will follow at Metropolis Memorial Gardens.
One of seven children, he grew up on a farm near Patoka, Ill. He began preaching after receiving his local preaching license at age 15.
He was a dedicated Christian who loved God and tried to exemplify the teachings of Christ in his daily life. He truly believed in a God of love, forgiveness, justice and mercy.
A man of compassion who loved his wife, children, grandchildren and his extended family and who enjoyed helping others and working with church youth groups, he was an avid Saluki fan, attended games when his grandchildren played and watched sports on television.
He enjoyed puzzles, problem solving and working outside in the yard, particularly in the fall.
He was genuine, sincere, generous, caring, supportive, with a vibrant sense of humor.
His sense of humor extended to his taste in music. He taught his family to sing The Auctioneer Song, I’m My Own Grandpa and That Good Old Mt. Dew. In addition to singing the auctioneer song, he even auctioneered occasionally.
Earl loved to sing gospel and western music, especially in a quintet that included his daughter, Melanie, and his grandson, Cameron.
In fact, he was singing Peace in the Valley in the McKendree College Chapel when his voice caught the attention of a fellow student, Benita Kathyrn Emmons. Eighteen months later, on Aug. 25, 1953, they were married.
While at McKendree College, he served as a student pastor at the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House in East St. Louis.
After graduating from McKendree in 1955, he moved to Atlanta to attend seminary at Emory University Candler School of Theology, graduating in 1958.
He served two local churches in the North Georgia Conference while at seminary.
He was a United Methodist Church minister and served as pastor in southern Illinois communities: Grand Tower, Gorham, Jonesboro, Walnut Grove, Mounds, Carterville, Stiritz, Hurst, Metropolis and Marion First.
After he retired to Massac County, he served as an interim pastor to St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church.
He continued to preach when needed locally at churches in various denominations.
Earl was committed to and continued to serve as an advocate for ministers who had had complaints signed against them.
As an associate in advocacy, he represented over 30 ministers throughout the United States, at times proceeding to take cases before the Judicial Council, which is the Supreme Judicial Body of the United Methodist Church.
He found great satisfaction in bringing healing to churches and to individuals.
In his younger years, Earl and his family of five traveled throughout North America. They explored nearly every state and National Park while staying in a pop-up camper.
After the children were grown, and in retirement, he and Benita continued to enjoy traveling, venturing to Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, South America and northern Africa.
He is survived by his wife, Benita Emmons Black; son and daughter-in-law, Bryan Earl and Eva Black of Carterville; son Aaron Douglas Black of West Memphis, Ark.; daughter Melanie Black Koch of Metropolis; six grandchildren, Austin Black and wife Ragan, Tasha Black, Caleb Black, Jacob Black, Cord Koch and Cameron Koch; three brothers, Eugene Black and wife Helen of Mattoon, Lyle Black and wife Dorothy of Salem and Dean Black and wife Elloise of Vandalia; one sister, Marie Towler and husband Bob of Patoka; three sisters-in-law, Marilyn Black of Carbondale, Susan Emmons-Kroeger of Keenes and Sharon Emmons of Vancouver, Wash.; and many loving nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Cecil and Nellie Eagan Black; two brothers, Jesse and Frank; three sisters-in-law, Joanna Black, Betty Black and Doris Owen; and one great-nephew, Josh Owen.
Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until the funeral hour on Wednesday at the church.
The family has requested that memorial contributions be made to the First United Methodist Church in Metropolis or the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) both in c/o The Metropolis First United Methodist Church, 100 E. Fifth St., Metropolis, IL 62960.
Miller Funeral Home of Metropolis is in charge of arrangements.