Milwaukee Times contributor, local church leader and religious educator, Rev. Judith T. Lester, passes

July 21, 2022

Staff Photo

Milwaukee Times‘ longtime writer of the “Counseling Corner,” Rev. Judith T. Lester died in the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

For more than 20 years Rev. Lester was a part of the Milwaukee Times family, serving as writer of the “Counseling Corner,” an informative, faith-driven weekly column that kicked off our Christian Times section.

Rev. Lester was a Milwaukee native and was one of six sisters born to the union of J.B. and Bernice Taylor. As a child she was an introvert who loved to read and write – short stories, journal entries, just about anything. Her family did not attend church often and therefore only as an adult did she come to the conclusion that she had an “undeveloped faith.”

In high school, the family moved to East St. Louis, IL where Rev. Lester earned her high school diploma from East St. Louis Senior High. During that era, there were few schools that offered extracurricular activities for girls, but Rev. Lester said she enjoyed playing in a community basketball program and was a member of the National Honor Society. The family moved back to Milwaukee within two years when her mother, Bernice died.

After relocating to Milwaukee, Rev. Lester had two children: Justin R. Lester, who is now pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Vallejo, CA and Camille B. Lester, who is a clinical mental health counselor at Marquette University. The family began attending Community Baptist Church around 1982 and Rev. Lester was shocked by how uninformed she was about the Bible.

“I felt drawn to it like a bestselling novel,” she said. During this time she also accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior and was baptized by the Rev. Roy B. Nabors.

In 1998, She enrolled in school and by the following year she received her ministerial license, which enabled her to preach and perform other ministerial duties at a specific congregation under the supervision of a pastor.

During this busy time she was raising her children. For two years, she prayed about God’s purpose for her life. One night she believes God woke her up and chose her as a vessel for His word. For quite a while, she told no one of her revelation. When she finally told a neighbor, he said that in order for people to take Rev. Lester seriously, she would need to go back to school and earn a degree.

“It was a lot,” she said. “I was an at-home mom. I began by volunteering three days a week at the children’s school, because I wanted to make sure that I remained active in the life of my children.”

Rev. Lester earned a bachelor’s degree in Ministry from Master’s Divinity School in 2000 and earned a master’s degree from Master’s International University of Divinity in 2002. Eventually she switched to New Covenant Baptist Church. She did not realize her talent for writing until she was asked by The Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper to write a Christian column in 2011. It was her weekly column in the Times that was instrumental in her talent being noticed by the National Baptist Sunday School Publishing Board (SSPB). The organization offered her the opportunity to write Bible lessons. For the last 18 years, she has served as a writer for the SSPB in Nashville. She writes a wide range of educational learning materials from youth to adult, namely the Quarterly Sunday School Lessons, Vacation Bible School, the Townsend Press Adult Sunday School Commentary and Living the Baptist Faith Facilitator’s Guide. Rev. Lester is also a contributor to the National Baptist Voice magazine and the Christian Education Informer. She is also a published author of “A GOSPEL People: Bible Stories for Youth Around the Globe.

Rev. Lester has given generously to the community as well. She helps collect donations for Sojourner Truth House. Each year the church adopts five families. The families provide a Christmas wish list and members of the congregation supply decorations and wrapped presents. For many years, Rev. Lester has also participated in a prison ministry for women incarcerated at Taycheedah Women’s Correctional Facility in Fond du Lac, WI.

Rev. Lester did not receive a salary for her work in ministry. She was employed fulltime with a legal firm.

In 2019 Rev. Lester was honored at the 35th Black Excellence Awards in the Religion category. At that time she stated, “My life has been guided by three principles – determination, commitment and education.”

Rev. Lester will be deeply missed in our community. The staff and management of the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Rev. Lester. And know that you are always in our thoughts and prayers.

According to Northwest Funeral Chapel the service for Rev. Lester has been scheduled for Saturday, July 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m., ending at 11:00 a.m., at New Covenant Baptist Church, 2315 N. 38th St., Milwaukee, WI.