Kirk Uriah Thompson was born January 10, 1958 to James and Bettye (née Rodgers) Thompson in Fort Meade, Maryland. Kirk began his education in the Baltimore Public School System until Grade 7. His grandparents, Uriah and Daisy Rodgers (familiarly known as “Honey” and “Mother”) enrolled Kirk and his siblings Derrick and Kim in Baltimore Junior Academy (BJA), a Seventh-day Adventist private school. Upon completing ninth grade, Kirk entered Pine Forge Academy in Pine Forge, PA as a sophomore.
Unsure how their school tuition would be paid, Daisy, a well-seasoned literature evangelist, employed Kirk and his siblings in selling religious magazines on supermarket parking lots. They collectively earned sizable amounts of money, but Kirk didn’t log many magazine sales. He determined instead to give most of his magazines away. His signature sales pitch typically ended with, “You didn’t want to buy these magazines, did you?”
While salesmanship wasn’t his strong suit, Kirk certainly had a great singing voice, a gift inherited from his mother. He developed a passion for music early in life. Upon enrollment in Pine Forge Academy (PFA), Kirk decided to expand his musical wings. He joined the academy choir, a male chorus, a student chorale and for good measure, the school band. In his junior year, he began to sing lead tenor in a newly formed quartet, partnering with classmates Thaddeus Jackson (1st tenor), Lamont Parker (baritone) and Stephen Richardson (bass). They became known as The Academy Four.
Graduating from PFA in 1976, Kirk matriculated to Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL (now Oakwood University), to pursue a degree in music. He and his friends eagerly auditioned for the college’s renowned travel choir, the Oakwood College Aeolians under the direction of Alma Blackmon. The quartet’s composition changed when Lamont experienced vocal cord complications impeding his ability to sing. David Chandler joined as the new baritone and blended in naturally. They were regularly featured on tour with the Aeolians.
In the summer of 1977, the quartet teamed with Elder William Scales, Jr. and Elder Luther R. Palmer for a major evangelism campaign in Baltimore, MD. The campaign’s title “Step Up to Happiness” led to the group being dubbed the Step Up to Happiness Quartet. Finding the name somewhat clunky, the group determined they would shed the moniker upon returning to school that fall. Despite earnest efforts, the name stuck.
The summer of 1978, noted evangelist E. E. Cleveland requested their services for an eight week tent meeting in Birmingham, AL at the invitation of his brother, Pastor W. J. Cleveland and the Ephesus SDA Church. The quartet enjoyed a close relationship with their spiritual mentor and Elder Cleveland brought them back for the summer of 1979. The two summer campaigns reaped over two hundred baptisms and established a new congregation - South Park SDA.
During the winter school break of 1979, Oakwood College asked the quartet to engage in a six week recruitment tour in the western United States. That was followed by a request from college president Dr. Calvin Rock to provide music for his Week of Prayer engagement at Columbia Union College. These evangelism and recruitment engagements served to forge Kirk, Thad, Dave and Steve into a band of brothers.
It was Elder Cleveland who declared the call to ministry upon Kirk’s life and although he tried to resist, he was soon convicted that it was God’s will. He graduated from Oakwood in 1982 earning a Bachelor of Theology degree with a minor concentration in history. Under the sponsorship of Allegheny East Conference, he continued on to seminary studies, completing a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in 1984.
Kirk married the former Tammy Ashby of Kansas City, MO in June 1981. Their union produced two sons, Jason Christopher and Jordan Anthony.
Kirk’s first pastoral assignment was in 1984 to the Willow Grove SDA Church in Willow Grove, PA. He was ordained in July 1988 along with long-time friends George Thornton and Stephen Richardson. Subsequent assignments included Grace Tabernacle (Norristown, PA); First SDA Church of Teaneck, NJ; Pine Forge SDA Church (Pine Forge, PA); First SDA Church of Washington, DC; Hillside SDA Church (Harrisburg, PA); and New Life SDA Church (Philadelphia, PA). During his tenure at Pine Forge, Kirk taught history and religion at his beloved alma mater.
On July 7, 2007 Kirk married Ruth-Ann Mosby. For reasons of poor health, he was placed on permanent medical disability in 2012. The couple moved to the Columbus, Ohio metro area and became active members of Ephesus SDA Church. Kirk served as Communications Director and continued his music ministry as health allowed. Fittingly, he recorded his solo CD project “I’m Still Here.” He maintained an active presence on social media and also created a podcast entitled Making a Better Today.
In his leisure time, Kirk enjoyed the peace and quiet of fishing and the creativity of photography. Above all, he was an avid football fan. During the NFL season, he enjoyed watching the games on Sunday and joined several football fantasy leagues including that of the Ephesus men’s group. He loyally rooted for the Philadelphia Eagles and was often heard loudly singing their rally song, “Fly, Eagles Fly.” He was thrilled to watch them win the Super Bowl this past February.
Kirk eventually succumbed to debilitating health, passing to his rest on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at the age of 60. He was predeceased by his parents, James Thompson and Bettye Thompson Brock; grandparents Uriah and Daisy Rodgers; and his stepson Brandon J. Williams.
He leaves to mourn his wife Ruth-Ann; sons Jason Thompson of Huntsville, AL and Jordan Thompson of Reading, PA; brother, Derrick (Peggy) Thompson and sister, Kimberly (David) Terry, both of Baltimore, MD; grandson Tristan Thompson; stepchildren Jai Williams, Austin Williams and Alexandra Mosby; grandchildren Elijah Freeman, Jaidon Williams and Shandon Williams-Amjed; nieces Kristin Terry, Lindsay and Courtney Wagner; great nephew Miles Elliot and great niece Makayla Elliot; and a host of family, friends and colleagues in ministry.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)