REVEREND HEZEKIAH DAVID STEWART, JR., a loving husband, father, grandfather, dedicated pastor, and revered community activist, has peacefully passed away, at the age of 80, on September 20, 2023. He leaves a legacy of faith, compassion, and leadership that had a profound impact on people in Arkansas and across the nation. Hezekiah was born October 14, 1942, in North Charleston, S.C., to the late Hezekiah D. Stewart, Sr. and the late Edna Abraham Stewart. He grew up in a close-knit family, alongside his siblings, which laid the foundation for his life of servanthood. In a union that spanned three decades, Hezekiah Stewart shared a loving marriage with his devoted wife, Diane Stewart. Their bond was a testament to enduring love and partnership, providing a source of strength and support throughout his remarkable life. Hezekiah's legacy extends to his beloved daughter, Evette Stewart, and his cherished granddaughter, Michelle Stewart. His role as a father and grandfather brought immense joy and pride to his heart, and his memory will forever be treasured in their hearts. Hezekiah graduated from Allen University in Columbia, S.C.; while there, he founded Good Samaritans, and became a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Following a "Call from God", he enrolled in Turner Seminary in Atlanta, Ga., and earned a Master of Divinity. His ministry in Arkansas began in 1976 at Mount Nebo AMEC in College Station, where he served the church and the community for twenty-five years and was affectionately known as "The Hoodlum Priest." In 1978, while serving at Mt. Nebo, Pastor Stewart and the church's ministry extended beyond the pulpit, with the opening of Watershed Family Resource Center in College Station. The Watershed served the community well and eventually relocated to 3701 Springer Boulevard in Little Rock, where it stands today. In 2001, Pastor Stewart was called upon to leave MT. Nebo and to become servant at Moody Chapel AMEC, where he continued to serve in an excellent way until his retirement in 2016. Throughout his forty plus years of ministry in Arkansas, Hezekiah mentored, taught, and counseled hundreds, making him a father figure to many, who are a testament to his gift and the power of God at work in his life. Through his many years of service and leadership, many men and women accepted their call to Christian ministry and continued to receive his guidance, love, and wisdom, until he was called from labor to rest. Throughout his life, Hezekiah was not only a spiritual guide to his congregation, but a tireless advocate for justice and compassion in the community and around the world. In 1997, he played a pivotal role in the response to the tornadoes that stormed College Station, being one of the first to take swift action. He worked tirelessly with state and federal governments to bring aid and restoration to the community. Hezekiah's work had an effective reach from Arkansas and the United States, to places such as Canada, Haiti, and Africa. Throughout his years of service, Hezekiah held positions on various boards and committees, and his contributions have earned him a wide array of accolades that are too numerous to name. They include the College Station Progressive League Certificate for Outstanding Community Service, as well as Channel 4 Community Service Award for Distinguished Citizens, The President's Volunteer Action Award, Annie Mae Bankhead Award for Community Service, Commendation of Appreciation from the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, The Dr. R.K. Young Humanitarian Award from the Christian Ministerial Alliance; and the Ethel K. Millar Award Religion and Social Awareness by Hendrix College. In 2008, he was given the FBI's Director's Community Leadership Award. Rev. Stewart was recognized as a compassionate and innovative role model by national media, including the CBS documentary film highlighting America's Youth and Unemployment, by HBO in their documentary "Banging in Little Rock: Gang Violence." Stewart also appeared on the nationally syndicated TV show, "Rolanda", that showcased the "Get Ready" initiative created by Stewart and the Watershed. As we bid farewell to a remarkable individual, let us remember Hezekiah's legacy of love, kindness, and faith. His memory will forever inspire us to lead a life filled with compassion and service to others. He leaves to cherish his memories his wife, Diane Stewart; his daughter, Evette Stewart; and his granddaughter, Michelle Stewart; his sisters, Beverly Mack and Delores Stewart of North Charleston, S.C.; his brother, Mark (Sonia) Stewart, of England, United Kingdom; and a host of aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews, who were touched by his unwavering commitment to improving the lives of those around him. He had one sister who preceded him in death, Kathy Wren. Services to celebrate the life of Reverend Hezekiah David Stewart, Jr., include Family and Visitation, on Monday, September 25, from 6-8 p.m. and funeral services on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, at 11 a.m. Services will be held at Moody Chapel AME Church, located at 5630 Mabelvale Pike, Little Rock, Ark., 72209. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations be made to Watershed Human and Community Development Agency, Inc. in honor of Hezekiah's dedication to helping those in need. Hezekiah's life has left an indelible mark on our community for generations to come. He will be deeply missed by all who have had the privilege of knowing him. Live Stream Information: Services will be live streamed on Mt. Nebo's Facebook page.
Published September 24, 2023