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LEGACY: The Rev. J.C. Bachus

Long-time pastor of St. Mark Baptist Church-Lauderdale, the Rev. J.C. Bachus, died surrounded by loved ones and close friends on Tuesday morning. He was 81.

Johnny Clarence Bachus was born in Hernando, Mississippi on Dec. 16, 1939 to Eddie and Leona Bachus. He was one of 14 children.

After graduating from Hernando High School, Bacchus moved to Memphis and attended LeMoyne-Owen College. He also attended W. Herbert Brewster Theological Seminary and School of Religion. During his years of ministry, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Tennessee School of Religion.

Having publicly acknowledged a call to the ministry at an early age, Bachus became pastor of St. Mark  in 1966. In October of 2019, he appointed his son-in-law, the Rev. Marvin Mims,  pastor and went into retirement. He had faithfully served his church for 53 years, said Mims.

“I was discharged from the military in 1983,” said Mims. “That same year I joined the church and have been there since that time. He worked tirelessly for more than 50 years. Pastor Bachus was turning 80 that year, and he felt it was time to retire.”

The Rev. J.C. Bachus in the St. Mark pulpit with the Rev. Marvin Mims, his son-in-law and successor as pastor. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Bachus was an energetic church leader who came to St. Mark when the total membership was barely 30. By the time of his retirement, the congregation had grown to more than 600 members.

He felt that the church should be involved in the life of its community. St. Mark established a mentoring program for young African-American boys and girls under-served communities.

Other outreach programs were started to help meet the practical needs of North Memphis residents, including meals and care packages.

In 1976, Bachus began building to fulfill his vision for a new sanctuary to accommodate the growing congregation. In 1986, the mortgage was burned. Bachus had succeeded in stretching the church’s resources, transforming the small building into a million-dollar sanctuary.

In 1988, a multi-purpose building and gymnasium was constructed on the campus to expand the church’s ability to address the needs of families. Sports, recreation, and community service programs were operated in this new structure.

On Nov. 6, 2019, the Memphis City Council honored Bachus with an honorary street name change on South Lauderdale Street. The resolution was sponsored by Councilwomen Patrice Robinson and Janice Fullilove.

Bachus loved running revivals and conducted numerous ones locally and across the country. In one year, he traveled extensively, preaching a total of 21 revivals.

Bachus is survived by his wife of 60 years, John Ella Bachus.

The Rev. J.C. Bachus and his wife of 60 years, John Ella Bachus, at St. Mark. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

“My husband was a wonderful man,” said Mrs. Bachus. “I loved his ministry. I loved the way he preached because you could follow his preaching. He was down-to- earth, very inspiring and spiritually uplifting. And boy, when he sang, it would make you get out of your seat and shout ‘Hallelujah!’”

Bachus was a prolific songwriter, producing a choir album in 1979.

Rev. Bachus also leaves five children: Johnnie Ruth Griggs, Patrick Bachus, Anita Mims, the Rev. Rodney Bachus and Timothy Bachus; three siblings: Lucille Huggins Smith of Memphis, Herman Bachus of Decatur, Illinoi, and Pastor C.L. Bachus of Kansas City, Kansas; 12 grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Final services include: visitation on April 22 from noon to 5 p.m., a public memorial service set for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The homegoing service is scheduled for April 23 beginning at 10 a.m.

The location for all services is St. Mark Baptist Church, 940 S. Lauderdale St. Masking and social distancing measures will be strictly enforced. 

Joe Ford Funeral Home has charge.

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