Soaring Above: A Tribute to Joyce Foggs
By Carl Stagner
She hit all the high notes, she hit all the right notes. Joyce Delores (Stone) Foggs passed away on August 17, 2020, but the tone she set for countless lives across the Church of God movement and beyond cannot be muted. Soprano, teacher, servant leader, mentor, loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, and so much more, Joyce Foggs soared high above the rest, not only atop the treble clef, but also in heart and character. While she soars today beyond the pain and heartache of this world, her legacy of love certainly lives here among us. A beautiful celebration of life for Joyce Foggs at the end of August in Anderson, Indiana, proved this to be true beyond any shadow of a doubt.
Married for sixty-five years to Rev. Dr. Edward L. Foggs, Joyce was by no means known only as the spouse of a general director emeritus for Church of God Ministries or the first lady to an exemplary, longtime pastor. In her own right, she humbly rose to prominence as a musician, educator, and community servant. Story after story attesting to these qualities resonated through the auditorium of Madison Park Church of God on Saturday, August 29. Those gathered to bear witness to the occasion and offer words of tribute were treated to an experience unlike a traditional funeral; this event was a reunion of family and friends to remember a towering spiritual figure in their lives, and nothing short of a full-fledged worship service for God’s glory!
Among numerous individuals touched deeply by the life and witness of Joyce Foggs were Chuck Myricks, Arnetta Bailey, Robert Culp, Ronald Fowler, Bishop Timothy Clarke, and Gloria Gaither—to name a few—who rose to the pulpit to share Scripture and testimony. Gloria Gaither, hearkening back to one of many memories, recounted Joyce’s vocal rendition of a song penned from within her own household.
“[Joyce’s] faith was deep, unshakable,” Gloria said. “That unshakable faith was her mandate to show up for work, to do something to make a difference. The urgency of making a difference was always fueled by a deep commitment to the Lord…. When Anderson University asked about staging a revival performance of the musical Alleluia, Joyce was the natural choice for the witness of someone who had served God through thick and thin. What a moving moment it was when Joyce told about her long journey with Jesus and then sang in her seasoned soprano voice, ‘the longer I serve him, the sweeter he grows,’ with the authority of a person who had learned this truth through experience!”
Indeed, Joyce Foggs sensed such urgency. Though her talent could have made reality her childhood dream of becoming a professional opera singer, the urgency to make a difference no doubt contributed to her career in education instead. Former students of Joyce Foggs were among those who testified, at her celebration of life service, to the loving care of this woman of faith. Locally, Joyce had consistently found ways to better her community, as well; one observer told of the years Joyce had given in service to the local housing authority, always advocating for the betterment of her neighbors in need.
One of the most touching moments of the day came when Ed Foggs rose to speak about his bride. Though he didn’t intend to be on the program, he quipped that no one else in the room could refer to Joyce as his “beloved spouse.” Recalling the love which kept them all their lives together, he also reflected, “I am living with simultaneous realities. On the one hand, sorrow; but on the other hand, celebration. I stand here today to celebrate a life well-lived.”
In early September, Ed Foggs posted a note on social media, thanking publicly those who had blessed and comforted his family in recent weeks. Recalling again the legacy of Joyce Foggs, he wrote, “Life goes on and memories linger. She was a significant part of any success I may have achieved. Candidly, her influence and impact were greater than even I realized. The stories people have shared with me about the difference she made in their life is, in a good way, overwhelming.”
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” —Isaiah 40:31 NIV
Watch the entire celebration service online at https://vimeo.com/452849934.