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Pages in Will's World for you to visit:
William's Life and Photo Gallery
William's Interests, Links, and Artwork
Information on Some of the Other Memorials Dedicated
To William's Memory
(Come See the Daylily)
Text of the News Stories Surrounding William's Murder
and the Trials.
An Extensive List of Links and Information
on Sites Useful to Grieving Teens and Adults
Grief and Family Support
Related To Gun Violence
Boards and Chats
Information on the Memorial Scholarship Funds
Links to Other Memorial Sites on the Web. You
May Submit Your Own Memorial Site To Your Loved One Here, As Well
Published and Unpublished Articles Written by Me
Regarding My Own Grief and Sense of Loss.
Talks and Writings
Selected Newsgroup Posts
A "Letter of Demonic Advice" in the style
of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters
regarding the loss of a child and a short story I'd like to believe could come
Information on our book.
More Resources and Materials for Bereaved Families
- Following is the complete text of the eulogy for William given by
Pastor Paul Goodman of Mechanicsville Christian Center, an Assembly's of God Congregation.
This was William's home church and Pastor Paul has known William for many years. Some
brief remarks, and a final goodbye from me follow.
- During the viewing, a separate room was set up in the funeral home adjacent to the
viewing room for the teen-agers and young people to retire to for personal time and mutual
support. Many of William's belongings and photos were placed in the room for them as well.
This more private area gave them time to grieve away from the family and adults, and I
believe much healing took place there. Pastor Paul spent a lot of time with these young
friends of William during the viewing, and collected many of their stories and
remembrances for use in the eulogy.
- As a footnote to this entire experience, many of those young people are now attending
church and renewing their relationship with God. Some of these are attending MCC. Please
keep these young people in your prayers, remember them often. They, like William, cannot
Eulogy of William Jenkins
August 16, 1997
- My name is Paul Goodman and I am the pastor of Mechanicsville Christian Center, the
church that William grew up in as a boy. With me is also Rev. Gene Jenkins, who is a
great-uncle of William's and pastors in Tallahassee, Florida. We are here today, with you,
to honor, to value, and to remember the young life of William Benjamin Jenkins. We are
here because we want to express appreciation, we want to acknowledge the importance of his
life and that everyone here in some way has been touched, their path has been crossed,
whether it be recent or whether it be for many years, you are here to say "Thank you,
God" for the life of this young man. We are also here today to share our grief
together, acknowledging that there is in our hearts great sadness, anger, and injustice in
the way in which William's life was taken.
- Wednesday night we all together began a journey -- the family, the friends, and the
community of Richmond. We began a journey together. It is bringing us here today. It is a
journey not one of us wants to be on. It's a journey that we know we shouldn't be on, Bill
as a father, Licia as a mother, a sister and a brother, Paul and Mary, grandparents,
aunts, uncles, cousins, family members, friends, friends who have come from Tennessee to
be here of Williams, friends like Russell and Alan, and Adam. We are all on a journey of
grief. But we hope today, we are also on a journey of faith. A journey of faith that can
lead us to a place where we can say, we are coming today to ask God for something. We are
asking God to touch us. We are asking God to reach us. We are asking God to be real to us
in a very tragic moment and indeed to help us.
- The Bible says, "Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted," and
we are mourning today. A friend of another young man who was killed prematurely, wrote a
poem, and the first line of that poem is this... "It is hard to contain so great an
emptiness." It is hard to contain so great an emptiness. We are grieving. This grief
is so strong, and it is so new to some here today who have not lost someone who is close
to them. And we are mindful of that, especially for the young people. A young woman wrote
this poem with the loss of her friend. She said, "Lord I am drowning in a sea of
perplexity. Waves of confusion crash over me. I'm too weak to shout for help. Either quiet
the waves or lift me above them. It's too late to learn to swim." And that is the way
- When words fail, the tears flow. And we have seen young people and older people join
their hands and their shoulders and they have wept a river of tears. You know tears have a
language all their own, God made us that way. They are a tongue that needs no interpreter
because in some mysterious way our soul knows when to admit its verbal limitations, and
the tears begin to flow. And so hurting hearts are weeping today, and mere words do seem
so inadequate, especially for us who are here to address the needs. And so we would ask
you to listen. Listen to the voice of God, for he knows how to speak to each one of us in
a way in which we can hear. The great scholar, C. S. Lewis, said God whispers in our
pleasures, but He shouts in our pain. And so today, we ask that you would look up into the
face of God and you would listen because our prayer is that He indeed will speak to us.
- God has given us great promises by which He is able to speak to us today. Psalm 27,
verse 1 says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear. The Lord is
the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid. I will lift my eyes up to the hills
from whence my help comes. My help comes from the Lord who is the maker of Heaven and
Earth. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him. To all who call upon him in truth. Fear
not, for I will be with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes
I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteousness and my right hand indeed will
keep you. God is my refuge and God is my strength, a very present help in time of
- Join with me in prayer. Father we have a deep need for your presence today. We invite
your Holy Spirit to come in such a way, in which you bring mercy and comfort. We reach out
to you our dear Father, and ask that a miracle happen today, that you pull back the
curtains and you allow us to see a greater reality. You allow somehow us to learn
something from this and gain something through this that will make a difference in our
lives. Will you keep us on the path of life and of truth and will you allow that mercy to
come in such a way that it lifts us and carries us. We ask this Father in Jesus' name.
- Who was William Jenkins? He was an intelligent young man. He was a reader. He was a
thinker who looked at things from many sides. He was an artist. He was known as a
protector by many. He was known to protect his young brother and sister many times. Others
have told us how he stood up on their behalf as well. In our church where he grew up as a
young man, in our programs of church ministry, children's churches, and our boy's programs
Royal Rangers, the leaders remembered him as a friendly child who possessed a quietness
about him. His grandmother said he was the kind of boy who was likable by all ages, young
and old. And that she looked forward to him coming to visit them every time that he did.
- He was the kind of boy who was not afraid to hug his mother, in front of his friends. As
a matter of fact, he was known for hugging his mother quite regularly. Recently, his
mother told me, just last week, she was bugging him about his hair, and she said,
"You know, you would look so handsome if you would pull your hair back in a ponytail
so I could see your face." And so on Monday, he showed up with his hair pulled back
in his ponytail, and he said to his mother, "Mom this is the Steven Segal look. I
hope you like it." He had a close and precious relationship with his mother.
- His father was proud of William and his accomplishments. He said he was proud of what he
was doing on the day that he was killed. He was working and being a responsible young man.
He said, "He was my son and he was my friend." His Cub Scout leader showed up at
the funeral home, his Boy Scout leaders showed up as well, and they said things like this.
"He was bright. He caught on fast. He stood out among the other boys as a
leader." One said, "He was just a joy to be around in the pack that they were
in." And they told a story about one campout that they were on and he took charge of
the chapel service for the other boys, and planned it, spoke at it. They said he was a boy
who had a strong faith in his heart.
- His friends said that he was the sweetest guy they ever knew. He was easy to get to
know. He would let you into his life and you felt close to him. You knew he was there for
you. Many said he didn't drop his friends because he felt that they truly depended upon
- William as a young man was watching a TV program, a movie, The Life of Christ. He
began to ask his mother questions about who Christ was and what it meant to be a
Christian. Not soon after that she saw him kneeling on his own in their kitchen, by a
chair, and he was praying, and he was asking Jesus into his life, to forgive him, to be
his Savior. But that wasn't enough for William, because just a couple of years later, he
thought it was time for his younger brother to become a Christian. So he asked his mom,
how do I help him? And she told him. And so he went to him and the two of them in their
bedroom prayed together to accept Christ and to acknowledge who Jesus was to them. And
then the two of them ganged up on his little sister, Mary, and they talked to her and they
said it's time for you, and the three of them together they prayed with her that she
indeed would recognize that Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior. All three of them were
baptized in water not that long ago, three years ago at our church, before they moved to
- William was 13 then. His mother said, William was a teenager, and William was exploring,
asking questions about different religions and philosophies. He was investigating things.
He was interested in what his friends were interested in, but he was always made it clear
to her whose side he was on. His parents said we are confident in his faith and we know
where he is. One of his Boy Scout masters told me this. They said, "We were on a
hiking trip at Lake Sharando, and we went up to one of the overlooks, Humpback Rock. And
we were up there climbing." If you've ever been up there you know it's a wonderful
place to be, beautiful view, but dangerous. And so this leader was with William and they
jumped down from the higher level to the lower level and of course the scout leader
stopped because the next level to jump to was dangerous and you would keep going, but
William kept going, and he grabbed William by the shoulder and he pulled him back and the
two of them peered over the precipice and looked at the ground below and William turned
back to him and said, "I think you just saved my life" and the scout leader said
"I think I did."
- I want you to know that Wednesday at around 10:30 at night, when William died, the hand
of God grabbed his shoulder, pulled him back out of death into heaven, and William looked
up at Jesus and he said, "I think you just saved my life." I believe that. I
believe that in the child's heart, in a young man's heart, he acknowledged and recognized
the reality of Jesus Christ.
- Yes we all go down different paths, we ask different questions, we make different
journeys, but the heart is the heart that knows. And William knew.
- Today we are the community of the hurting and we are drawn together by the preciousness
of a teenager whose life was taken from him unfairly. But we are also not only the
community of the hurting we are the community of the helping. And we believe today that
words shared, and prayers prayed and deeds done can triumph over death and triumph over
wrong. And we believe that in a way we can't understand we're summoned here today by a
great need and also by a great God. And for each of us our shoulders are needed to lean
on. Our hands are needed to hold. Our eyes are needed to weep. Our hearts are needed to
feel. And our faith is needed to trust. And our love is needed to forgive.
- Each of us, our resolve is needed today to love and to forgive and to treat others the
way we indeed want to be treated. Part of William's legacy will be this, it will be how
each of us today chooses to respond to what has happened to him. That is an important
legacy. How will William's life and how will William's death affect us? How will we
- You need to know what decisions his parents have made. They have told me that losing
William, as we can all understand is the most tragic and hardest thing that they have ever
experienced. His mother Licia has said this, "I believe God is good. I'm angry and
I'm hurt, but I still trust God." They've been asked, "Is your faith shaken by
this?" We can understand that question. They have responded by saying, "Our
faith has been strengthened." Yes they wonder where that guardian angel was at that
moment. But they have said this, "God is the one we run to not run from. He is the
one who is bigger than all of this, bigger than any man or group of people who could take
our son's life." And that God doesn't cause such a thing, but He certainly can redeem
it. That because God has given His creation a free will, He therefore doesn't control
every moment. But when we give moments like this to Him out of our volition, He will take
those moments and control the outcome and redeem it and bring good out of it.
- His father told me, "If I had the man who killed my son in my grasp for 24 hours, I
would take him to church." He said, "I know deep sadness, but I don't know rage.
There is room in my heart to forgive who did this." He said he doesn't believe there
is anything wrong with Richmond that love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness can't fix.
And that there have been others who have experienced the same kind of tragedy and this is
what they hope, they trust that the death of William will somehow lead to saving lives in
- And for each of us, that the legacy that William was in life, and now is in death that
he leaves us will indeed be a summons to all of us in a way in which God's love expressed
through Jesus Christ can touch the people that we meet the rest of our lives. And so let
us grieve today. Let us look into the face of God, and let us listen for His voice,
because He will speak to us.
Bill's Remarks at the end of the Funeral
- I want to, on behalf of the family, thank everybody for the amazing and overwhelming
outpouring of support, prayer, and love that has been expressed to us over the past two
days, three days. Very difficult days. I want to share with you a couple of ways that
William's memory is going to be preserved.
- William's memory is going to be preserved through the William Jenkins Memorial
Scholarship Fund which will be administered by the Community Foundation. It is going to be
used for students going to college, studying at college.
- William's memory is going to be preserved through the memorial scholarship fund in his
name set up for students in the Fine Arts Department at Virginia Union University, where I
teach, to continue to help people.
- William's memory is going to be preserved through the enormous generosity of Dr. John
Ware who breeds daylilies. He talked to me the other day. He has several new varieties he
is going to be registering and he wants to register one in William's name. That is so
William's memory is going to be preserved, found this out last night, through a screenplay
that [a] friend of the family ... has been writing....She needed a model for a character
in this screenplay, and she said to me, "I needed to use the best kid I knew." I
was deeply touched.
And William's memory is going to be preserved in me and you, and many others, who share
and treasure their experiences, and their times with him. Some stories that I don't know.
Some stories I may not want to know. We treasure memories, you guys have them, I have
some, we all have some. They are precious.
In expressing your sympathy to me and the family this week, you have said something over
and over and over again. Out of nearly every person's mouth has come the words, "If I
can do anything for you. Whatever I can do, you let me know." All right, I've made up
my mind, and we've got you all here, so we're going to do this, okay? I want you to go
home, I want you to tell somebody there that you love them and you appreciate them. And
then live that out everyday. Everybody can do that. That's what you can do for us.
Let's only have good things come out of this one bad thing. Only good things.
The other recurring theme in everybody's heart has been the words, "I don't know what
to say. There are no words to express." Well, you're right, there are no words. No
one has ever invented the word, or words to express fully what we experience. That's okay.
Language has its limitations. The message still comes through, and I appreciate that.
The only writer that has ever come close to partially, a fraction, expressing a fraction
of what we feel today, and if I can indulge myself, Shakespeare says at the end of Hamlet,
"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee
to thy rest."
On behalf of the family, and all of us here who were extraordinarily close to William,
you've expressed your sympathy to us, and your care and concern and love. And I really
feel that I have a responsibility and a duty to do this for you as well. You have our
deepest sympathy, and we are very sorry for your loss. We are praying that God's
peace, His mercy, His love will richly bless you, thank you so much.
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