Little Free Library Honors Life of Late Florida Pastor
By Kim Ousley
Pastor Jeffrey Compere of Community Church of God in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, recently took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a special tribute to the late Pastor Emeritus Rev. Dr. James Curtis Eubanks Sr. This took place on a Sunday after church with the community participating in a joyful celebration of a life gone too soon. Rev. Eubanks wasn’t just a minister, but also a beacon of light in the community, one in which he and his wife Diana Eubanks lived for many years.
“He had a heart for the community,” said Compere. “He planned to do this project with his granddaughter Ashley Eubanks last year. Unfortunately, he passed on before they could get started and complete this project.”
Cynthia Burgess, daughter of Rev. Eubanks, spoke of her father’s talents and gifts. “He was a master carpenter. We asked him to make everything!” From a makeup display case for his granddaughter Ashley, to many smaller and bigger items that many in the congregation still have in their homes today, there are many objects he blessed family and friends with throughout the years.
This is where Ashley Eubanks came in. She heard of the “little free library” concept through a friend and presented the idea to her grandfather. He thought it was a wonderful idea; he was an avid reader himself and always shared his love of books with family.
“I’m a Google queen,” she said. “I found the national Little Free Library website and did some research.” She passed on the information of measurements to her “Poppy” and they were going to work on the project together. Due to his passing, this project seemed to come to a standstill until the moment she spoke with a cousin about pursuing this project to honor his life and legacy.
Rev. Eubanks’s granddaughter was able to find a grant through the city for community projects. She found that her city actually donates the Little Free Library boxes to neighborhoods who want to place them in their area. She filled out the paperwork and was contacted from the city that they would be glad to help with this project.
The box was delivered around the end of January, said Burgess. It was her task to paint and decorate the box before dedication. “I thought hard on how to honor him and what to put on it. Years ago, my father wanted to learn more about who he was and connected with his Native American heritage. He came up with the name Spirit Buffalo.”
When Eubanks himself was growing up in the St. Augustine, Florida, area, his parents were of mixed cultural decent. Native American was part of that heritage. The name he chose for himself, Spirit Buffalo, represented being strong enough to shoulder heavy burdens. He was known in the community, even those who didn’t attend his congregation, as a very giving, loving man. His passion to love God’s people didn’t fall be the wayside. After his passing, many shared stories with the family of encounters with their father.
“Some people recalled how my father came to the hospital at 5:00 in the morning to pray with them before surgery,” said Burgess. On his final Sunday before retiring, Burgess said it was more like a memorial service with everyone honoring him for the man of God he was to them.
As Burgess painted the library, many people would stop by and get excited, asking when the box would be finished. “This made it so intimate,” she said.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday, April 25, 2021, was both sobering and joyful at the same time. Burgess shares that the metal plaque was done and donated by a local metal shop. The owner recalled how kind her father was to him and didn’t charge a fee for his work. He was honored to do this for the family. The video of the ceremony shows his daughter, Cynthia Burgess, describing each symbol on the box and how it represented her father.
She painted the box white to be a beacon that stood out along the side of the road. On the side was the Spirit Buffalo name he chose for himself and what it stood for: “Earth centered, selfless soul with strength to carry heavy burdens.” On the backside was a cross with his initials below it. Burgess said, “Because above all else, Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior was paramount.” His initials at the bottom represent his humility and surrender to God’s service.
“Each bead that is in place was placed separately so everyone has a place to call its own. That’s what he felt about God’s people, to make sure everybody had their place.” She shared that if you were gifted from talents from God, he made sure that you exercised them at Community Church of God.
Rev. Eubanks felt the calling to serve at a young age of 18 years, but felt he wasn’t ready. So, he enlisted into the Air Force and served for over 21 years before retiring at 39 years of age. While working as a postman for the next five years, he also attended seminary and served as a minister at Fifteenth Avenue Church of God. Eventually, he started his own Community Church of God pastorate in a small, two-bedroom house he inherited from his father. Once they outgrew the house, they met in a local elementary school. Eventually he started to build the building in 1991that the church continues to reside in presently.
In time, he pastored he helped mentor many other young pastors and became known as the “pastor’s pastor.” In his prime, he oversaw 18 different ministries, led a ministerial staff of 10, and shepherded a congregation of approximately 400 members. He had exceptional administrative skills and the gift of discernment. Rev. Eubanks graduated with a master’s degree from the Southwest Bible College and Seminary and received a doctorate of theology from the Jacksonville Theological Seminary in 2000. In 1997, he received the Raymond S. Jackson Distinguished Christian Service Award in Ministry from the Pioneer Awards Committee of the National Association of the Church of God.
To learn more about the life of Rev. Dr. James Curtis Eubanks Sr., visit https://thewestsidegazette.com/rev-dr-james-curtis-eubanks-sr/. To learn more about the Church of God movement, visit www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Kim Ousley is a freelance writer from Anderson, Indiana.
Feature (top) photo: local family members gather to celebrate the opening of the Free Little Library.