2793 Culver Road | Rochester, New York 14622
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Obituary of Rev. Dr. Weldon G. Thomas
Rev. Dr. Weldon G. Thomas was born in Annapolis, Maryland on December 16, 1954. He was the oldest son of Peggy Jeanette and James Weldon Thomas.
Weldon graduated from Annapolis High School and went on to the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Urban Planning and African American Studies. While at the University of Maryland, Weldon became a charter member of the Iota Zeta chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and he celebrates 45 years of membership in the brotherhood. As an active member of the Rochester Alumnae Chapter, he was honored with the Alpha Award of Merit.
After college, Weldon went to work for the National Institutes of Health, and later the Close Up Foundation, where he met his soulmate, Marilyn Frances Drew. Weldon and Marilyn were married on August 2, 1980, and shared a partnership that was made from heaven for 39 years. One of the ways Weldon displayed his love for his wife was in his 2009 self-published book: 30 Years of HER: Reflections and Love Poems of a Happily Married Man.
Weldon accepted a call to the ministry, and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with his Master of Divinity Degree in 1985. Having chosen to do ministry under the Christian Methodist Episcopal denomination, he was given his first church appointment to Reynolds Temple CME Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He would go on to pastor St. John CME Church in Washington, D.C. Weldon pastored St. John for 14 years, and during his tenure he led a vibrant ecumenical and activist ministry that reached throughout Anacostia and the entire Washington Metropolitan Area. His outreach included serving as campus chaplain at his alma mater, the University of Maryland, College Park, and as a Fellow for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a public policy think tank. In addition, he led the congregation in the $1.6 million construction of an education building and church renovation project. In June 2017, the St. John congregation named the education building in his honor.
After leaving St. John, Weldon served as Presiding Elder of the New York-New England District of the CME Church. He would serve in that role for five years, and after he would go on to pastor New Bethel CME Church in Rochester, New York. While serving as pastor of New Bethel, Weldon served as a community representative on the Action for a Better Community (ABC) Head Start Policy Council, he was the convener of the Rochester Better Life Collaborative (RBLC), a founder and the convener of the Rochester Faith Collaborative (RFC), a faith-based HIV/AIDS prevention health initiative. He received recognition from the University of Rochester Medical Center for his advocacy and support of initiatives to improve the health of the community. He was a member of the Ecumenical Committee of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA) in Rochester.
He served in many capacities planning and helping to facilitate health conferences throughout the state and the city, including the annual Faith and Medicine Conference, and was one of the founding pastors that helped to create the Interdenominational Health Ministry Coalition (IHMC) in Rochester. He led his church's Health Ministry with an increase in health education, awareness and initiatives, and he served as a member of the Mayor's Healthy Weight Leadership Council promoting healthy physical activities for children. Pastor Thomas served as a member of Church United, an ecumenical clergy service group. Other affiliations that Dr. Thomas supported included the Rochester City School District's Pillars of Hope Mentoring program, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Rochester Christian Fellowship (URCF) campus ministry, and he was a staunch supporter of Pack and Troop #293 of the Boy Scouts of America, sponsored by New Bethel. His own sons both earned the rank of Eagle Scouts at the St. John scout unit in Washington, DC.
While pastoring New Bethel, Weldon earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from the Northeastern Seminary at the Roberts Wesleyan College, where he was named Alumni of the Year in 2018.
In addition to pastoring, Weldon spent 22 years in the United States Air Force Reserves, serving in the role of Chaplain. He advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring in 2009.
After falling ill, Weldon was surrounded by love and support from his family and community. One of his sons, Daniel Weldon, moved to Rochester to help care for his father; and the entire Rochester community came together to aide in his treatment and healing. His family is eternally grateful for the outpouring of love shown by the church community and the city as a whole.
Weldon loved his family above all. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn Thomas, his two children, Richard Kayeen (Monee) (author, educator, and film maker); and Daniel Weldon, (celebrity chef and author) and two grandchildren, Zion Sarai and Weldon Kayeen. He is also survived by his mother and father, Peggy Thomas and James Thomas, and four of his siblings, Sandra R. Thomas and Valerie M. Thomas of Severn, Maryland; Levon J. Thomas (Tammy) of Redlands, California, and Jshon D. Thomas (Gary) of San Bruno, California. He is predeceased by his brother, Karl R. Thomas. Weldon also leaves an extensive extended family and wide hosts of friends.
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