James “Jim” Edwin Atwood, 85, passed away on Friday, June 26, 2020, at Sunnyside Community in Harrisonburg, Va. Jim was born on Nov. 3, 1934, in Detroit, Mich.
He attended Florida State University on a baseball scholarship and graduated in 1956.
As a promising pitcher, he turned down a minor league contract with the then Milwaukee Braves to pursue his calling in the ministry. He graduated from Union Theological Seminary (Richmond). He also received a Masters at Princeton Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary.
His first pastorate was in Wallace, N.C. In 1965, he and his wife, Roxana (and their two children) moved to Japan to serve as missionaries for nine years. Upon his return to the United States he had two pastorates, one at Grace Church in Springfield, Va., and another at Trinity Church in Arlington, Va. He was honorably retired in 1998.
Jim's great passion was working for social justice and peace, particularly in the movement to prevent gun violence in America. For 40 years he worked for that cause, serving as the chair of the board for the National Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He also served on the board for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
Jim authored three books on gun violence prevention, including his most recent book Collateral Damage. He spoke at numerous church conferences and in the public forum, and served as the interfaith chair for the Million Mom March in 2000.
He received national awards from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the Presbyterian Writers Guild. In 2019, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence named their annual award after Jim and his longtime associate, Mike Beard. On the day before his death, The Presbyterian General Assembly recognized him for his decades-long work to combat gun violence.
He loved sports, especially baseball and hockey. He was a prolific jokester and storyteller with a hearty, contagious laugh.
In his retirement, he traveled widely and led many tour groups, visiting over 70 countries and all seven continents. Jim never met a stranger, promoting goodness and kindness wherever he went.
Jim was a compassionate and prophetic servant of God who dedicated his life with tenacity and courage to make the world a more just and peaceful place.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Esther Atwood, and his sisters, Florence and Harriet. He is survived by Roxana Mebane, his wife of 61 years, and his children, Mebane Boyd (Alan), his son, Harry Atwood (Robin) and his devoted grandchildren, Atwood Boyd, Roxana Boyd, Oliver Atwood, and Ellen Atwood.
Funeral plans are pending.
Memorial contributions can be made to one of the following: The Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence, 805 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005; Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, 17 Crickettown, Stony Point, NY 10980, or Trinity Presbyterian Church, 725 South High St., Harrisonburg, VA 22801.