Jun 28, 2022
WARREN — The Rev. James Earl Holbrook, 88, of Warren, passed peacefully into eternal glory on Sunday, June 26, 2022, surrounded by his family.
Born Monday, Feb. 26, 1934, in Soldier, Ky., James was the youngest child of Charles Thomas and Goldie Rayburn Holbrook.
James’ mom passed away when he was just 4 years-old, and his childhood years were spent both in Kentucky and in the Warren area.
In 1956, at the age of 22, James knelt at an altar to pray what would be the most important prayer he would ever pray; the prayer that would set the course for the next 66 years of his life and beyond. That prayer — asking God to forgive him of his sins — was the beginning of his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. At that time, God also impressed on his heart a call to ministry.
The next couple of years found him worshiping with and preaching to fellow believers in churches brimming with different races and ethnicities — a trend that would continue on many occasions throughout his life.
In late 1958, Mr. Holbrook became the Rev. Holbrook as he further settled into the work and labor of the Lord. It was at this point he became the pastor of a small congregation that met in the basement of the home of Don and Kathleen Bennett. In the years following, they would then move to the current location of the Warren Revival Center. He, affectionately referred to as “Brother Jimmy” by many early congregants, continued to shepherd the flock of Warren Revival Center for the next 60-plus years. With great care, loving concern and unfaltering faithfulness, he provided them with impeccable teaching and shared abundant wisdom with all who entered.
His wife, Deborah L. Holbrook, has served beside him faithfully for the entirety of their 47 years of marriage. Together, they have been respected and renowned not only by the members of their own congregation, but also the area ministry as a whole.
Pastor Holbrook also achieved much in the nurturing, mentoring and example he set for countless other ministries, pastors, missionaries, evangelists, teachers and children of God. He did this through his work and involvement in serving on the board of the Mahoning Valley Rescue Mission for 30-plus years, fellowshipping with community pastors in the Evangelical Ministers Fellowship (EMF), ministering in numerous weekly nursing homes for over 40 years, helping found and support the His Hands Extended Prison Ministry as well as the New Life Maternity Home (later becoming Bella Women’s Center) and embarking on mission trips to the Navajo Reservation, Jamaica and Mexico.
Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:14, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel” and that is what was seen in Pastor Holbrook’s every step, every word, every opinion, every action and every reaction. He lived the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Whether it was bringing a fiery message on a Sunday morning; visiting a sick congregant at their home; supporting a worthy cause at a fundraiser; comforting a grieving family after a loss; standing to testify of the wonders of his Creator; shaking the hand of a visitor; traveling to a mission field; meeting with area pastors to share insight; playing the guitar or lifting hands of praise while joining in song; or giving a hug to a small child, Pastor Holbrook did it all, with the love of Christ; the instruction of a father; the guidance of a shepherd; the attitude of a winner; the heart of a champion; the courage of a warrior; the joy of a child and the tenacity of a fearless leader. He was a rock in our community of faith; one deserving of honor and appreciation on this side of Heaven and now, the rewards and crowns of the righteous on the other. Passing the torch of pastoring the Warren Revival Center to his grandson, David in 2019, James then dedicated his time to faithful prayer and almost continual intercession for the congregants of the church, for his family and for those who had not yet surrendered their life to Christ.
It was his desire throughout his entire ministry, but with even sharper focus in his later years, that all would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Holding fast to such Scriptures as Romans 10:9-10 and Romans 10:14-15, it was James’ passion to share the life-changing truth of the Gospel and the eternal destination-altering plan of salvation with all he met and all he knew. In light of that fact, he would have loved nothing more than for you to choose to live your life for Christ as well.
Quite a lineage of ministry follows James, as many in his family have chosen to carry on his ministerial legacy. These include his wife, the Rev. Deborah Holbrook; son, the Rev. James Thomas Holbrook, pastor of Wayland Community Church; grandson, the Rev. James David Holbrook, pastor of Warren Revival Center; niece, the Rev. Rose A. Bennett, associate pastor of Mercy In Action Ministries; and great-niece, Kenedi (Matthew) Cross, missionary in Haiti. This is in addition to countless other ministers and pastors who have followed his example of being abundantly steadfast, inspiringly self-sacrificing and perseveringly Christ-like.
Preceding James in death were his mother, Goldie Rayburn Holbrook; father, Charles Thomas Holbrook; brothers, Ora “Raymond” Holbrook and Clester Ray Holbrook; and sister, June C. Holbrook.
James is survived by his wife, Deborah Louise Bennett Holbrook; sister, Virginia R. Holbrook; sister-in-law, Faye Holbrook; children, James “Thomas” (Karen) Holbrook, George “Michael” Holbrook, both of Leavittsburg, and Russell Paul (Cathie) Holbrook of Sachse, Texas; grandchildren, James “David” (Jennifer) Holbrook, Jonathan (Sarah) Holbrook, Daniere Leffler and Michal G. Holbrook; great-grandchildren, Haylee (Jacob) Ziegler, Sarah Holbrook, Maryellen Holbrook and Gracelyn McMahon; many nieces and nephews; and many who adopted him as their dad.
The family would like to display their gratitude to Barbara Sloan, who was James’ loving caregiver for the past 11 months; she spent countless hours tirelessly giving of herself and her time. Her friendship has been a valued gift.
A special thank you to each one for the cards, flowers and visits during the last few years of his journey; to Southern Care Hospice, who provided meaningful care in his final weeks; and to Carl W. Hall Funeral Home, for their friendship throughout the years, as well as their care and services at this time.
Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the Warren Revival Center, 4400 W. Market St., Leavittsburg.
Friends may call 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, 2022, and again 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the Warren Revival Center.
The Rev. Holbrook will be laid to rest 11 a.m. Friday, July 1, 2022, in Pine Knoll Cemetery, Warren Township.
In lieu of flowers, monetary donations can be sent to Warren Revival Center, P.O. Box 305, Leavittsburg, OH 44430.
Family and friends may view the Rev. Holbrook’s obituary and / or send condolences to his family, by visiting carlwhall.com.
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