Long Beach Says Farewell, Celebrates Life of Pastor Joe Chaney, Jr.
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(July 22, 2006) -- VIPs, police and firefighters whom he served as Chaplain, and congregants and community members who valued his spiritual and civic guidance, gathered at Grace Brethren Church in Bixby Knolls on July 22 to celebrate the life of Rev. Joe Chaney, Jr...who built LB's Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (15th/Gundry) from five members over forty years ago into a major community force with a membership now numbering over 1,600.
From noon until past 3:00 p.m, participants on the church ground floor and balcony cheered, raised their voices in song and dabbed tears in an elegantly conducted funeral repeatedly called a celebration, a term that might be a considedred a cliche elsewhere but not from what we witnessed.
While sad at his passing, Pastor Chaney's congregants and others were visibly joyful in recalling his life, thankful at having seen his work in Long Beach...and said he is now with God.
An obituary stated in part, "Pastor Joe Chaney, Jr. lives. His spirit surrounds us, embraces us, comforts us. He gives us instruction for this day."
A number of VIPs attended (spotted from our balcony seat, not a complete list): Mayor Bob Foster; Vice Mayor/Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal; Councilmembers Laura Richardson and Tonia Reyes Uranga; LBCC Trustee Roberto Uranga; LB Harbor Commissioner Doris Topsy Elvord; LB Police Chief Anthony Batts; LB Fire Chief Dave Ellis; LB retired Fire Chief "Skip" Beck; retired Councilmembers Doug Drummond and Clarence Smith [we apologize to others we may have missed; there was a large turnout]. A letter from Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald was also read (as she was in Washington, D.C.)
Among those called for speak from the podium:
LB Police Chief Anthony Batts: ..."We established a friendship...I started attending Antioch Missionary Baptist Church after becoming a friend with Pastor Chaney. But it didn't stop there, because on a monthly basis for like approximately five years we went to lunch for five years together...We would talk about different things. He became a father to me...Today I don't come here to say good-bye as a Chief of Police. I come here to say good-bye and say praise to my father, because he was like a father to me...I will truly miss him...God bless him."
LB Fire Chief Dave Ellis: ..."Truly, it's been our honor in the Long Beach Fire Department since 1999, Pastor Chaney served as our Chaplain...He was a leader, he was a leader in Long Beach that led by example, not just words...Pastor Chaney's unconditional love, his kindness...that softspoken manner, he had that dynamic personality...it was truly a gift that he gave the Long Beach Fire Department for the time that he served us..."
LB Fire Chief "Skip" Beck (ret.): ..."It was my distinct pleasure to be blessed with Rev. Chaney's acceptance of being the first formal, official Fire Chaplain in Long Beach Fire Department History. [applause] And before we asked and before he accepted, when I met him through his wonderful family -- what a wonderful family, and what a wonderful legacy -- I used to have a lot of conversations with Pastor Chaney...What I felt with him is, 'This guy could be a firefighter"...[and] when I say that, that's the highest compliment I can give you..."
Mayor Bob Foster: ..."To the family, on behalf of the city, our condolences and our thanks for sharing such a wonderful human being with the City. I wish I had known Pastor Joe better. Judging from the conversation today, I would love to have been his friend, I would love to have had him as a spiritual counselor and I would love to have seen the love that everyone in this room sees...I know everyone called him Pastor Joe, but I also understand they called him 'The Mayor.' [laughter, applause] It was very troubling even after I won the election they're calling this other guy the Mayor [laughter]...He loved his faith. He loved his city. He loved his family. He loved his community. He worked hard for it. And your presence here today, and conversations that I've had with people all across this city about Pastor Joe demonstrate that. He really did live an exemplary life. Would that all of us when we pass have that said about us. I am honored to be here today on behalf of the City of Long Beach, to pay tribute to a fine human being, to a very spiritual man...and to celebrate his life and to thank God that we had a man like this in the City of Long Beach." [applause]
Harbor Commissioner Doris Topsy-Elvord: ..."He was a good and faithful servant to God. He was my friend. He was my counselor. He was my confidant. He was family...I want to say to him today, and to the family, his rest is well deserved. You know that he will be looking out for us, and praying for us, that we can continue on the right path. And he is just away. I thank God for him. I thank God for the family. I thank God for all of them, and I want all of us to come together...and pray and help Pastor Wayne Chaney, Jr. who is a wonderful young man." [applause]
Wife Maxine spoke briefly alongside familymembers. "...I thank God for the years I've spent with him, and I feel at peace because I know he's resting and he's going home...I ask each and every one of you to continue praying for our family to give all of us strength." Several of Pastor Joe's children delivered touching remembrances.
The Antioch Mass Choir raised their voices in spirited song...and Pastor Wayne Chaney, Jr., delivered a high-energy Eulogy for his grandfather.
Pallbearers were followed by familymembers...and Pastor Chaney was taken to his final rest at Forest Lawn of Long Beach.
Rev. Joe Chaney was a Chaplain for St. Mary’s Medical Center...as well as for LBPD and LBFD...and LB firefighters produced a visible tribute outside the church. Police were also visible in large numbers.
Pastor Chaney came to Long Beach in 1953 from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He pastored the First Baptist Church in Fontana while working for the City of Long Beach and later served as an assistant to the late Reverend N. J. Kirkpatrick of the New Hope Baptist Church. He attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, earning a B.A. degree in Business. He studied three years of Theology at Billips Seminary in Baton Rogue and finished his theological studies at Golden Gate Seminary in Mill Valley, CA.
The Southern Baptist General Convention (SBGC) selected Rev. Chaney as the first African-American to serve on the Family Services and Childcare Board of Directors for California and he was elected for two terms as the SBCG's First Vice-President for California. He also served as President of CASBAAN (California Southern Baptist African-American Network), was Director of Missions for the Long Beach Harbor Southern Baptist Association (LBHSBA), elected multiple times as its Moderator and served five years as its Finance Committee Chairman. In 1993, he received the NAACP's Image Award (Long Beach Chapter).
Pastor Chaney co-founded the Community and School Tutoring (CAST) program and served on the Board of Directors for multiple organizations including Long Beach Transit (where he was recently inducted into LB Transit's Hall of Fame) and was also a Boardmember of LBPD's DARE Program and the LB Civic Light Opera.
Rev. Chaney leaves his wife, Maxine Moss Chaney, five children, nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
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