On Friday, May 6, many were left in grief and shock with the news of the sudden passing of Rev. Jim Sluss, beloved pastor and community member. Rev. Sluss touched the lives of countless people and was known as a compassionate and humble servant of Christ.
James Paul Sluss was born April 20, 1939 in Canton, Ohio to the late Galan and Odessa Sluss. Demonstrating the love of Christ was important to Jim’s family. In 1948, when Jim was just nine years old, he accompanied his parents to Kentucky as part of a mission trip to deliver donations to the Krypton Brethren Mission. He joined them five years later for another trip to Krypton. These journeys had a profound impact on the young Jim Sluss. Even at a young age, he had a heart for the mountain people of Kentucky. Jim grew to adulthood and attended Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio, but he did not forget the mountain people. Each year he spent his summer break at the Krypton Brethren Mission teaching Bible school and Bible classes.
Upon graduating from college in 1966, Jim followed the call to assist the late Margaret Lowery at the Krypton Brethren Mission. During the 1966 to 1967 school year, Jim taught at the one-room schoolhouse at Dunraven, Kentucky. After completing his first year of teaching, Jim made the decision to dedicate his full efforts to the cause of Christ by working full-time at the Krypton Brethren Mission. He served at the mission from 1966 to 1969, during which time he began a courtship with Sarah Lois Howard, daughter of the late A.C. and Margaret Howard of Dunraven. On many evenings Jim walked the railroad tracks from Krypton, through the tunnels, and across the swinging bridge to Rocklick to court his sweetheart. The couple married in 1969 and moved to Nappanee, Indiana after Jim accepted a position at the Nappanee Brethren Church. He promised his bride that he would bring her back to Kentucky someday.
Jim served as a pastor at several churches across the United States, answering the call where God would lead, working hard to build stronger churches and communities along the way. Jim pastored Nappanee Brethren Church from 1969 to 1975, followed by Dutchtown Brethren Church near Warsaw, Indiana from 1975 to 1982. Jim and Lois then moved their family to California where Jim pastored Lathrop Brethren Church from 1982 to 1987 and served as a volunteer at the local Hospice center. In 1987, the Sluss family returned to Indiana when Jim accepted a pastorship at the Roanoke Brethren Church in Roanoke. They remained there until 1992. It was during that time that Jim also had the honor of serving a year as National Moderator for the Brethren Church.
In 1992, Jim was finally able to fulfill the promise he made to Lois twenty five years before. They returned to Kentucky when he was offered the position as pastor of the Krypton Brethren Church. In addition to his church duties, Jim also served fifteen years as a case manager for the Hazard-Perry County Community Ministries, helping to find jobs and housing for the homeless. This work was very dear to Jim, as he had the opportunity to show the love of Christ to each person he met.
From 2007 until the time of his passing, Jim served as chaplain for the Mountain Community Hospice of the Bluegrass. There he befriended and comforted many of the families who were touched by the loss of a loved one. Jim also served on the Board of Directors at the Riverside Christian Training School at Lost Creek, Kentucky. He was friends with many of the local clergy and well-respected by his peers, including a special group of fellow ARH cardiac rehab patients he met after his heart surgery in 2011.
Many remember Jim Sluss from his early years in Kentucky. He delivered Christmas gifts in the mission Jeep as an outreach for Margaret Lowery and the Krypton Brethren Mission, taught Bible school, worked with other local pastors to hold a community revival and baptismal service, and traveled the narrow “holler” roads in his Volkswagen Beetle to hold Bible services in people’s homes. However, most recall Jim Sluss as a pastor, a man dedicated to the call of following wherever God led. He is remembered for his love of the mountain people demonstrated by the countless sermons and funerals he preached, as well as the sick and dying he visited. As a result, many accepted Christ as their Savior.
Following a beautiful service officiated by his son Paul Timothy Sluss, Rev. Jim Sluss was laid to rest at the Rocklick Cemetery near his home. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, as well as by brother-In-law, Bradley Moore; father-in-law, Ace Howard; and mother-in-law, Margaret Campbell Howard.
Jim leaves behind the following loved-ones to cherish his memory: wife, Sarah Lois Sluss of Krypton; Son, Paul Sluss and Jennifer of Krypton; Daughter, Gayl Husband and Troy of Roanoke, IN; four grandchildren: Madeline, Jack, Avery and Quinn Sluss; 12 brothers-In-law, 12 sisters-In-law, a host of nieces and nephews and other relatives, as well as friends from Hospice of the Bluegrass and Hazard A.R.H. Cardiac Rehab Department.
Jim Sluss’ life served as a testimony to all he met. He will be greatly missed.
Sarah Faith Howard is Jim Sluss’ niece. Howard contributed this article for the Hazard Herald.