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Pastor Joe Axtell Filled Many Roles

Rol In each of the testimonies, “Joe knew his time on earth

Pastor Axtell was described as was short, that’s why he
a charismatic, energetic leader worked so hard,” Mrs. Axtell
who poured out his life in said. “He would tell us, ‘I’m
devotion to God, a tool in not going to live to be an old
God’s hands. man’.”
He was a student of God’s In 2009, they took a trip to
Word and knew that within its Israel, a journey
jour that was top on
pages were the answers to life’s his bucket list.
questions. His family shared that at age
“Scripture was like a gun in a 15 he was awakened to his
holster for him,” his oldest son sinful state and his need for a
Andrew said. “He was always Savior. He asked the Lord
ready to give the Word.” Jesus for forgiveness for his
He was also passionate about sins and began a new life of
loving people and living life to faith thanks to the example and
the max. He bred champion encouragement of Carl
coon dogs, could call turkeys Andresen and Gene Lobdell.
and owls, was an avid fly- After graduation from DCS
fisherman, and loved the in 1976, Axtell attended
outdoors. Liberty Baptist College in
“He knew he didn’t have Lynchburg, VA. He married
PASTOR JOE AXTELL and his wife Christel. This photo much time so he lived each day Christel Ripley and returned to
was taken at the Sherman Bible Chapel’s
el’s first service held at to the fullest,” his wife Christel his hometown of Deposit.
the Presbyterian Church, on Second Street, Deposit. Axtell said. Called to ministry, he and his
She explained that her wife started a church in their
This week the community and the hours of waiting it took husband was born with a heart home on River Street in April
mourned the loss of a good and to pay their respects to the defect that became apparent 1981.
godly man. Pastor Joe Axtell, family. when he was 30 years old. In 1983, Pastor Joe was
Shepherd of the Sherman Bible The church was full again on While helping a neighbor he asked to fill in at the Sherman
Chapel went home to be with Saturday for the funeral with got carbon monoxide Bible Chapel. At that time
his Lord on October 29. many standing around the poisoning. He was rushed to Practical Bible College (now
For the Sherman Bible interior perimeter and many the hospital and almost didn’t Davis College) in Johnson City
Chapel Congregation, family, seated in the overflow rooms. make it. It was then that the was sending students during the
friends, and community Church leaders promised that at valve defect was discovered. school year and a teacher
members, Pastor Joe Axtell some point DVD’s of the The cardiologist wanted him during the summer to preach on
filled many roles. almost five hour service will be to stop cutting stone but at that Sundays at the church whose w
He was Pastor, husband, made available. point the church wasn’t able to congregation consisted of “five
father, brother, counselor, Each of the church’s elders support him and his family so little old ladies”. One week led
teacher, and friend. He was a and deacons, children, siblings, stopping was not an option. to another, and then another.
man that could tell yarns with in-laws,
laws, and friends told Good nutrition, exercise, and a “Joe would preach in
the best of the Country Story stories, shared Scripture, and healthy lifestyle were enacted, Sherman at 9:00 am and then
regulars, preach profound spoke of their relationship to but the defect didn’t go away, it come back and preach at our
sermons from the pulpit, and Pastor Axtell. only put off the inevitable valve house at 11:00 am,” Chris
instantaneously share Scripture Interspersed with the replacement. Axtell said.
with those in need of guidance. testimonies and words of Then in 2008, it was obvious After the third week, the
Axtell’s family and friends encouragement were songs of that his endurance and strength ladies from Sherman
Sh asked if
paid him tribute during calling praise and worship to the God were compromised. Surgery they could come to the Axtell’s
hours on Friday. No one that Axtell loved with all of his was imperative. The recovery Bible Study. They also asked if
seemed to mind the long lines heart. was difficult. Joe could preach again in their
The Deposit Courier-Wednesday, November 7, 2012

church. After that next week, His brother-in-law, Norm church offices, youth ministry talent, their hearts, and the
the ladies asked if the people in MacKenzie, also had stories to center, and counseling center. message of God’s love with the
Axtell’s congregation would tell. He and Joe hunted together Pastor Joe’s second floor community.
like to come and use their every year and their adventures office window overlooks On Sunday, his last day on
building and join them as one not only included the biggest Second Street. He called it his this side of Heaven, Pastor Joe
body. bucks and the best turkey calls, ‘perch’ and from there he could was having a typical Sunday.
“There were five of them and but also the best stories. keep an eye on the happenings He had thrown his back out
25 of us; we never had one “Joe always said, ‘Don’t ever on Second Street. before going to church, but that
minute of trouble with those let the truth get in the way of a “This has been a very wise didn’t stop him. He preached
women. They loved us. It was a good story’,” Norm laughed. move for our church,” Mrs. passionately, spent time at the
match made in Heaven,” Chris Pastor Joe was noted for his Axtell said. “It gave door after church chatting with
Axtell said. love of storytelling, in and out cohesiveness to all of our parishioners, went to the
The Axtell’s home church of the pulpit. ministries and made it possible E.D.G.E. for a counseling
officially moved to Sherman His family joked about his to more effectively serve out session, watched a football
Bible Chapel in October 1983. “other office” at the Country community and congregation.” game on TV and prepared his
“In 1990, Joe and I had a Store, a place he affectionately Two years later, in 2011, the home for the upcoming storm.
vision to do something for the called, “the Mars Hill of church had grown to the point “Joe loved the weather,” his
community that would be a Deposit where all the great that to remain at the Sherman family said. “He was always
cohesive event and would be philosophers of the day meet to location, three services would aware and always made sure
welcoming to the community,” solve the issues of the world”. be necessary. everyone was prepared. That’s
she said. “We came up with the (Mars Hill refers to a place of “We were very concerned what he was all about, caring
idea of the Sherman Gospel open philosophical debate about the move,” she said. “We for other people.”
Music Festival.” referenced in the Book of Acts- loved Sherman but Joe did not Before going to bed, the
They brought in Christian Acts 17:22.) feel that he had the physical generator was going, buckets of
bands, sold BBQ chicken and In 2004, Pastor Joe enrolled stamina to preach three water were drawn, and the
picnic fare. It quickly became a in the Masters College in Santa services.” deacons and elders were all
highly successful event. Clarita, California and earned a The options were discussed lined up to help check on the
“We were very much on Master of Arts in Biblical and since there was no room needs of the congregation.
purpose about making sure the Counseling. The church within the Village limits to “It’s very appropriate that
bands adhered to the Word of realized that he could not pastor build a church of the size God chose to take him in the
God; that they totally agreed on full time and also cut stone so needed, the other churches middle of a storm,” Chris
the authority of the Scriptures,” they took on the task of were approached about renting Axtell said. She related that
she explained. supporting their pastor full a facility. The Presbyterians before going to bed that night
During those years, the time. After 22 years in the were willing to share their they spent a full hour
Axtells were raising their stone quarry, he finally quit the building and the arrangement discussing the coming storm.
children. Listening to the stone business and accepted the has been working well for both When she awoke during the
family stories paints a picture role of pastor full time. congregations. dark hours of Monday morning,
of a “bigger than life” dad who “He could have polished his “Joe was very pleased she could hear him breathing
made growing up an adventure. resume and gone elsewhere. He because he felt like he could heavily and thought it was
They eventually moved to their had several opportunities,” his more effectively serve the because of his back. Not
current location on Lumber son-in-law Jason Hodges said. community of Deposit by being wanting to disturb him, she
Road. The old farm house “But he chose to remain in in town,” his wife commented. slipped out to use the
offered lots of room for their Deposit. He was faithful.” The first Sunday in Deposit bathroom. When she returned
growing family. “He was given many was also the 30 year milestone she realized he was in trouble.
Coon hunts, trips to the stone opportunities to go elsewhere at for the church. She called 911 and started CPR
dock, which included soda and high paying positions. The With the move to Deposit, immediately. She said in her
gum–something mom would carrot always dangled, but Joe the Sherman Gospel Music heart she knew it was too late
never allow, family devotions, always said, ‘That is not Festival was also moved. The to bring him back. God had
homeschooling adventures, important and I am going with name was changed to the called him Home.
field trips, basketball, the calling that God has given Wooden Cross Music Festival When asked about what will
clandestine puppies, and me. I am called here until I and relocated to Fireman’s happen to the church, Mrs.
extended family gatherings, die.’ He loved this town and he Park. The park is much larger Axtell said “I believe that we
were all liberally sprinkled with loved the people,” Chris Axtell than the Sherman location and are very blessed with wise and
memories of dad’s humor, his said. the festival grew as well. Along godly men who can continue to
Deposit drawl, his “big voice”, In 2009, the church bought with local talent, the church lead our church into the future.”
and his interest in everyone and the house at the end of invited popular “big name” The Axtell family and the
everything. To each of his five Monument Street and named it Gospel Singers to appear. Last Sherman Bible Chapel
children, Axtell was the best the E.D.G.E. (Every Day Grace year Jason Crabb was invited, congregation expressed
dad, a hero, a friend, and a Experience). It houses the This year, The Martins and repeatedly that they are sure
mentor. Michael English shared their that the legacy of Pastor Joe
The Deposit Courier-Wednesday,
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Axtell will live on in their lives. am your Comfort, I am your Pastor Joe was always ready or in trains or at shops or at
His message, reiterated over Joy, I am your Love, and I am to speak with the youth and tea,
and over: “Love God with all your Father. Find your rest in lead many Baccalaureate For the saints of God are just
your heart, serve Him Me.” services which, unfortunately, folk like me, and I mean to be
passionately, be willing to By Rachel Axtell Hodges, are no longer a public school one too.
sacrifice everything to please oldest child of Pastor Joe Axtell function. He could relate to Pastor Joe was a very special
Christ.” students in Deposit school “folk”.

because he had been one and –HAE
was especially effective when
speaking to graduating seniors
A Very Special Folk who took with them a positive
As the Community approach to their new life.
Remembers My Dad This is a tough one. This is He never wavered in his love
our fifth attempt at trying to for Jesus and “walked the walk
To the Editor: write an editorial about a farm and talked the talk” on His
The pain of this unbearable boy who became one of the behalf. He helped many people
grief can only be soothed by the most successful persons our from many different
peace and promises that Christ community has ever known. He backgrounds with many
whispers to me in moments of founded a church and brought different problems to know
silence while I search for His love and understanding to Jesus and know there is hope
voice. everyone who knew him. and salvation for everyone.
“I sent him to this earth as Obviously we are talking Joseph Wesson Axtell
In order to meet the church’s
My creation, My servant, My about the Reverend Joseph W. Joseph Wesson Axtell, 54 of
ever-increasing congregation,
faithful friend, My leader of Axtell who grew up on a local Deposit, NY, went to be with
the Sherman Bible Chapel
leaders, My example and light farm, received a bachelor’s his Lord Jesus in heaven on
rented the Presbyterian Church
so others may see Me and degree from Liberty University October 29, 2012.
and soon after purchasing a
know who I am! I chose him and a master’s degree in A Celebration of Life service
neighboring house on
for this time and this place. I Biblical Counseling from the was held at Sherman Bible
Monument Street for the youth
know he was your beloved Master’s College in Santa Chapel in Deposit at 129
ministry. The little church in
father and that… you loved him Clarita, California. Second Street, on Saturday,
Sherman also sponsored the
so very much, but he was Mine A person’s success can be November 3 at 11 a.m. Joe’s
Sherman Gospel picnic for
first. I chose him before the measured in many ways. son-in-law,
son Jason Hodges,
many years which has
creation of the world to fulfill Making money is the criteria officiated. Calling hours were
expanded to the Wooden Cross
My work, and that is what he for some, achieving power for held at Sherman Bible Chapel
Festival bringing in several
did. other. Pastor Joe’s success was on Friday, November 2 from
well known Christian
I knew he didn’t have long, measured differently. He 12-3
12 p.m. and5-7 p.m. Burial
entertainers. The annual festival
so I gave him much to do in a started his ministry in high followed the funeral at
now brings in several thousand
short time. And he did it. He school and throughout his life Hambletville Cemetery.
people to picnic and hear
fulfilled what I called him to he devoted himself to God and Funeral arrangements were
gospel music as well and
do. He loved the unlovely, gave his love of people. handled by Zacharias Funeral
sacrificially, and poured out his Throughout his short lif life he Home.
We can go on. And by these
heart into others so that they brought hundreds of people to Joe was born in Hancock,
words we do not mean to
could know just how great I the teachings of Jesus and NY on March 25, 1958. He
offend any other minister or
am! And he did it all with a taught them to love and to see graduated from Deposit Central
priest who love and promote
humble heart, because he knew the good in everyone. He was High School in 1976 and
the life of Christ and God. It
he was doing it for Me. rarely seen without a smile and continued on to receive
rece a
takes a lot of dedication to walk
But then I called him home rendered no judgment one Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral
in their shoes.
to be with Me, so that I could anyone; but was always there to Ministries from Liberty
We do, however, want to end
give him his just reward and help any person no matter how University, as well as a Master
this editorial about Pastor Joe
because I love him so much. He difficult a situation.
uation. of Arts in Biblical Counseling
with a verse from the hymn, “I
was faithful to me to the very He founded the Sherman from Masters College in Santa
Sing a Song of the Saints”
end. So, child, do not fret, do Bible Chapel and under his Clarita, California. He was
written by Lesbia Scott in
not fear. That same power that I leadership it became perhaps continually educating himself
They lived not only in ages
gave him to accomplish all I the largest church in Deposit. at various conferences and
past, there are hundreds of
called him to do is in you right Through him it became a very educational forums honing his
thousands still,
now! You must use it to proactive church welcoming skills to help others in their
The world is bright with
advance My Kingdom just as and offering help to anyone in struggles.
joyous saints who love to do
he did. need of spiritual guidance. As it Joe Axtell was married to
Jesus’ will.
But remember when that turns out there wwere many. Christel Ripley on July 7, 1979.
You can see them in school
grief sets in, I am your Peace, I
or in lanes or at sea, in church
The Deposit Courier-Wednesday, November 7, 2012

They were married for 33

Pastor Joe Axtell served for
31½ years as faithful leader of
Sherman Bible Chapel. His
greatest passion in life was his
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
He counted it as one of the
greatest privileges to shepherd
the flock of God throughout
these years. His other passions
included teaching and
counseling, ministering to
pastors and missionaries, deer
and coon hunting, fly-fishing,
trapping, and wandering
through the woods. His greatest
love was his wife and children
and grandchildren whom he
dearly loved.
Joe is survived by his spouse,
Christel; his children and their
spouses, Rachel and Jason
Hodges, Andrew, Joshua and
Jessi, Caylie, and Ben; his
grandchildren, Josiah, Levi, and
Alexis; sisters and brothers,
Elizabeth and Ron Oakerson,
Warren and Ann Axtell,
Raymond and Deb Axtell, and
Ronnie Axtell; his mother and
father-in-law, Roland and
Patricia Ripley; an aunt and
uncles; nieces and nephews,
and many other family and
In lieu of flowers, the family
wishes that memorial donations
be given to the Joe Axtell
Memorial Fund in care of
Sherman Bible Chapel, 331
Lumber Road, Deposit, NY