J. Don George, founder of the 7,000-member Calvary Church in Irving, Texas, a former executive presbyter, and mentor to many leading AG ministers, died Thursday due to a hereditary condition (pulmonary fibrosis). He was 83.
George began his ministry in Texas as a 19-year-old evangelist, meeting Gwen Rogers for the first time at a revival service in Abilene in 1957. Five months later, they were married. In an article recognizing their 50th wedding anniversary in 2007, George said, she was “the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.”
Following two years as an evangelist, the Georges held pastorates in Plainview, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Fort Worth, Texas. In 1972, they founded Calvary Church — leading the church from a small congregation of 59 to more than 7,000 by 2016. In 2010, George invited a “spiritual son,” Ben Dailey, to become lead pastor and partner with him in ministry. In 2018, George became “pastor emeritus” of the church, while continuing in personal ministry.
During his years of ministry, George continued his education. He’s a graduate of Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, and holds a Doctor of Divinity from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He also served on the board of the AG Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, and Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas.
George was a long-time executive presbyter for the Assemblies of God, holding a position on the Executive Presbytery for 16 years. An inspirational leader and sought-after speaker, George was perhaps best known for his mentoring abilities — shaping the lives and ministries of numerous young people and ministers.
Maury Davis may be one of the best examples of God using George to shape a life for His purposes. Davis was serving a 20-year prison sentence, having killed a woman while under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he was 18. Over years of mentorship, George helped walk Davis into the ministry and ultimately to pastor Cornerstone Church in Madison, Tennessee, that grew from 200 to over 5,000 under Davis’ leadership.
“For my entire life, he poured into me, helped me, opened doors, guided, and loved me,” Davis said in a video message. “He was the master pastor, the finest man I’ve ever met . . . he was more than a pastor to me, he was a father.”
“J. Don George was an effective pastor, spiritual father and mentor to many, and an influential leader in this Fellowship,” states Doug Clay, AG general superintendent. “His life, ministry and his presence will be greatly missed. We extend our love and prayers to his family and friends.”
Although George was of the “Silent Generation,” he was on Twitter, regularly sharing pictures and something he called “West Texas Wisdom (WTW)” with those who followed him. His WTW tweets shed light into his down-to-earth views on life:
• “The true measure of a fella’s wealth is determined by how much he’d have left if he lost all his money.” Nuf said!
• “There is no key to happiness, ‘cause the door is always open.” Nuf said!
• “When a fella of advanced age begins to feel that he has been forgotten by his fellow citizens, and turned out to pasture, he should remember that there is still plenty of work to be done in the pasture.” Nuf said!
• “The highest reward for a fella’s toil is not what he gets for it, but it’s what he becomes by it.” Nuf said!
J. Don George is survived by his wife of 63 years, Gwen; three children, Valerie (Kerry) Jones of Irving; Roger of Irving; and Rodney (Kim) also of Irving; a sister, Peggy (Randy) Sims of Ruidoso, New Mexico; and six grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Jimalee George; a daughter, Vanessa, who passed away in 1972, at age seven, following a cerebral hemorrhage; and his brother, R. Kenneth George.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized, but will be posted on the Calvary Church Facebook page when they are determined.