A Tribute to a True Servant Leader
Rev. JoAnn Nichols Watson
April 19, 1951 – July 10, 2023
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!” Matthew 25:21 (The Parable of the Talents)
This issue of our Good-News Letter is dedicated to our dear sister-in-Christ, Rev. JoAnn Watson, president of the UUMS board of directors and Senior Minister of West Side Unity in Detroit–both founded by her mentor and our beloved Rev. Dr. Ruth M. Mosley. Rev. JoAnn lived her truth out loud by exemplifying what it means to be a servant leader in everything she set her mind, heart, and soul to. She was passionate about social and economic justice, which she demonstrated through the many hats she wore as an educator, journalist, mentor, and activist. She was most recently appointed to the Reparations Committee for the City of Detroit. She served as executive director of the Detroit Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and as a member of the Detroit City Council. Rev. JoAnn hosted a weekly television and radio show, WakeUp Detroit!, and I had the privilege of being a guest on her shows. While in Detroit, I witnessed the reverence for her by the community. She could hardly move or take a step without being acknowledged. It is obvious that she was a good and faithful servant who made good use of her many talents to create harmony, peace, and justice for all whose lives touched hers. Before joining the ancestors on July 10, 2023, Rev. JoAnn invested all of her talents into being a beneficial presence throughout her community and the world. She lived her truth out loud by walking her talk and letting her light shine. Whenever any kind of news (good and not-so-good) was shared with Rev. JoAnn, her simple response was “My, my, my!” I can only imagine her smiling and repeating that phrase over and over as her praises are being sung. So, Rev. JoAnn, we thank you for your good works in the mission of UUMS by “bringing good news to the poor, comforting the broken-hearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, and freedom to those who are bound.” You fought the good fight. You stayed the course, You ran the race. Job well done, thy good and faithful servant! My, my, my!
Unity Urban Ministerial School Alumni Association (UUMSAA) invites contributions in memory of Rev. JoAnn Watson and Rev. Dr. Ruth Mosley for restoration of the West Side Unity Church sanctuary. Donations may be sent to UUMSAA through Zelle at tr*******@uu****.org, or mail check to Rev. Karen Saunders, 4606 Redick Ave, Omaha, NE 68152. Please indicate West Side Unity Restoration Project in the memo.
To learn more about Rev. JoAnn Watson’s greater works in words and pictures go to uums.org.