Rev. James A. Ryan
The Reverend James A. Ryan, Jr., 69, of Mabelvale, Arkansas, died January 6, 2021, of COVID-19. Ryan, known to most as Jack, was pastor of Crossroads Cumberland Presbyterian Church (Arkansas Presbytery). A chaplain, he retired a colonel from the U.S. Army in 2011 after 30 years and two months of service. His father, who survives, was Major General James A. Ryan and his mother was Betty.
Jack graduated from Gurdon High School in 1969. In 1973, he married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Kay Toombs. Their relationship started when she was a freshman in high school, and he was a senior. Jack earned a history degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He went on to Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas, and earned a Master of Divinity in Theology.
After seminary, he pastored Belcher Presbyterian Church and Dixie Presbyterian Church (Pines Presbytery PCUSA), First Presbyterian Church of Mount Pleasant, Texas (Grace Presbytery PCUSA), and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gulfport, Mississippi (Mississippi Presbytery PCUSA).
Endorsed by the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel, Jack enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1980 as a chaplain (1st Lieutenant) and served 23 years. After leaving the guard, he served in the U.S. Army Reserve for seven years. In 2004, he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq. Jack served as Chaplain in the 49th Armored Division and 112th Armor Regiment in Texas; State Area Command (STARC) in Mississippi; 455th Transportation Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade, State Area Command (STARC), 460th Chemical Brigade, 420th Engineer Brigade, and the 90th Regional Readiness Command in Arkansas.
In 1991, Jack moved his family back to Arkansas and began his career at the Central Arkansas Veteran’s Healthcare System. He served as Staff Chaplain for eight years and Chief of Chaplain Service for 22 years. In Arkansas, Jack and Barbara Kay began attending the Benton-Bryant Cumberland Presbyterian Fellowship near Little Rock.
On September 9, 2011, Arkansas Presbytery accepted Jack’s request to move his membership from Mississippi Valley Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as endorsed by Arkansas Presbytery’s Committee on the Ministry. A commission of Arkansas Presbytery met at the Benton-Bryant Fellowship December 4, 2011, for the purpose of recognizing his ordination. The Reverend John Sweigart posed the questions and the Reverend Buster Guthrie delivered the charge. Guthrie also preached.
In 2016, Jack accepted the call to the pastorate of Crossroads Cumberland Presbyterian Church which developed from the Benton-Bryant Fellowship. He retired from the Central Arkansas Veteran’s Healthcare System in May of 2020. At the time of his death, Jack was still serving the Crossroads congregation with the Reverend Dwight Shanley as his associate pastor.