Rev. Tony Janner
The Reverend Dr. Robert Tony Janner (West Tennessee Presbytery) died November 5, 2020, of COVID-19. Janner was semi-retired and doing supply preaching in the presbytery. He was about to embark on an interim pastorate for First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in McKenzie, Tennessee, where he previously served as pastor.
Denominationally, Tony served on both the Board of Missions and the Missions Ministry Team of the Ministry Council. At the time of his death he was vice chair of the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel.
Tony Janner was born May 17, 1945, in Corsicana, Texas. In May 1960, he joined First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. He attended Barry Elementary School in Barry, Texas, Mountain View Junior High in Culver City, California, Ranch High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Corsicana High School in Corsicana, Texas, before joining the United States Army in 1964 during his senior year.
He served in the infantry, first at Ft. Polk, Louisiana, then Vicinza, Italy, and finally in Vietnam. Vietnam was Tony’s personal battleground. He had to face the question, “Will God forgive me for what I do here?” Tony said he received his calling from God to ordained ministry while serving in combat in Vietnam.
He married Oran, Missouri’s Mary Ann Holmes April 8, 1967. They had two children, Tracy and Markle Anthony. After leaving the army in 1967, Tony attended South Texas Junior College in Houston, Texas, Tarrant County Junior College in Fort Worth, Texas, and graduated from Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth with a degree in elementary education. He held several teaching positions through his career.
While in Houston, Tony was a member of River Oaks Cumberland Presbyterian Church, then in South Texas Presbytery. He taught junior high Sunday school. He was elected an elder at River Oaks in October 1969 and served on the session until 1972.
Tony came under the care of South Texas Presbytery in 1970, was licensed March 27, 1971, and ordained by Madison Presbytery December 10, 1978. The Reverend Jack Barker preached the ordination service and delivered the charge. After ordination, Tony transferred briefly to Bartholomew Presbytery and then to Oklahoma Western Presbytery.
He completed seminary education in 1979, and earned a Master’s of Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary, Memphis, Tennessee. He later attended San Francisco Theological Seminary as a candidate in the Doctor of Ministry program in the field of family counseling. Tony earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Memphis Theological Seminary on May 12, 2001, in the field of church growth and renewal using the Total Quality Management Process.
Tony served Mission Ridge Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Texas, Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Corinth, Mississippi, Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Hampton, Arkansas, and First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Clinton, Oklahoma, before joining the United States Air Force as a chaplain in 1981.
Tony attended the Chaplain School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. His first assignment was the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. In June 1983, he moved to a remote air station at Gila Bend, Arizona as the Senior Installation Chaplain. He transferred to Sembach, Germany, in June, 1985. He was promoted to major and selected for a one-year clinical pastoral education residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He was appointed Senior Chaplain at Eglin Regional Hospital at the Air Force Defense Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. In August, 1993, Tony embarked on a two-year special assignment as senior caplain at Woomera, Australia, a joint allied assignment. When he retired from the United States Air Force August 1, 1997, Tony was Chief of Protestant Parish Ministries for the 64th Fighter Training Wing at Reese Air Force Base in Texas.
While in the process of leaving the Air Force, Tony received a call from White Oak Pond Cumberland Presbyterian Church (Missouri Presbytery) in Lebanon, Missouri. Before entering semi-retirement, Tony served a long pastorate at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in McKenzie, Tennessee (West Tennessee Presbytery).
“Everyone was a friend…and everyone got a hug. That’s what made him a great pastor and shepherd. It was who he was at his soul and it helped so many understand more about Christ.” – Rev. Garrett Burns