A former newspaper businessman, local pastor and spiritual leader, the Reverend John A. Childs, died Monday at age 81 after a long illness.
With previous jobs at Newsday, the Washington Post, and the Delta Democrat-Times under his belt, Childs came to Anniston to work as a reporter and editor at the Anniston Star 1973.. In 1980, he became assistant to the president of The Star, Phillip Sanguinetti. In this role, he was integral in founding the Cleburne Sun in 1982, a free weekly distributed to residents of that county.
Childs was promoted to business manager of The Star in 1985.
After leaving The Star, he founded a newspaper in Oxford, the Oxford Independent, at the end of 1992. He focused on the people of Oxford, and they embraced the weekly and the man who ‘has published.
“We mourn the loss of Oxford’s only ‘adopted’ son,” Mayor Alton Craft said. “John Childs was a great friend to all, and we are grateful for the time we spent with him and his journal.”
Childs ran the Oxford Independent for the next two decades. During this time, the passion for his Christian faith began to drive him into ministry.
Childs hired Mark Fuller, a young reporter who had worked with him at Consolidated Publishing, to help him. In the process, Childs directed him to a life of faith.
“He was my mentor as a journalist and we developed a friendship,” Fuller said. “He started inviting me to Sunday school, and I wasn’t active. I had never been.
Soon after, Fuller began worshiping at Grace Episcopal Church with Childs, and Fuller’s baptism solidified a friendship that continued throughout Childs’ life.
While in DC, he had married Barbara, his longtime wife. The two had one son together, John Childs III.
Barbara predeceased her husband in 2014.
In legal circles, Childs became known to many lawyers, judges and others who worked with people suffering from drug addiction. Childs started a recovery ministry called Journey into Freedom and helped transform many lives.
“He was such a compassionate person who truly loved people and wanted them to know and experience the love of the Lord,” said Hon. Debra Jones, judge of the 7e Alabama Judicial Circuit.
Reverend Seth Murphy agreed. He is a pastor of the Servants of Jesus program, a homeless shelter in Calhoun County.
“When I was working with him, we were getting people off the streets,” Murphy said. “He was advising them and helping them try to help them. I always liked him. He was such a nice and kind man and such a good elder in the church. I learned a lot from him.”
Childs calm and calm manner endeared him to many, and he spent years as a member of several community organizations, such as the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce and Anniston Merchants Association and others. accounting and writing related groups.
In the mid-1980s, after the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, which had been founded in Anniston, was moved to Montgomery, Childs was instrumental in organizing an arts festival in Calhoun County known as the name of Festivanni.
Childs eventually became a pastor at Campground United Methodist Church in Muscadine, where he remained for more than 10 years. Thereafter, for a few years, he managed the services of the Fruithurst Winery Co.
The co-owner and master winemaker is Dylan Laminack. Her memories of Childs are many.
“He was a very smart, sweet guy,” Laminack said. “He was well educated and had traveled a lot. He brought me back to the church, and I guess I owe him my soul.
One of Laminack’s favorite memories of Childs is when he performed a wedding ceremony for Laminack and his wife. He led them to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in San JuanTeotihuacan and performed the ceremony, which was not permitted on the city’s sacred grounds. Childs told Laminack that someone would come and arrest them if they lingered, so he proceeded quickly.
“A very round man approached us huffing and puffing on the mountain,” Laminack said. When he reached the top, we were done, and we came down saying, ‘Lo siento, lo siento”, which means “I’m sorry” in Spanish.
Childs’ funeral was held Friday afternoon at St. Michael and All Angels Church. There, speakers praised him for his sincere desire and ability to pray for others in need.