In memoriam: Emeritus missionary Donald Kirkland, 84

Donald Kirkland

Donald Kirkland

Donald Kirkland (Don), an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who shared the gospel among Sub-Saharan African Peoples, died November 4, 2019, in Thomaston, Georgia. He was 84.

Kirkland was born in the farming community of Graceville, Florida, July 14, 1935, but spent the entirety of his childhood in Columbus, Georgia. From a young age, Kirkland had a desire to know the Lord and grow in his love and understanding of the Bible. Thanks to those God placed in his life, such as a dedicated Sunday School teacher, Kirkland’s desires to know Christ in a real and personal way were fostered and encouraged throughout his formative years.

A serviceman to both the country and the church, Kirkland served in the United States Air Force and as a Southern Baptist pastor both before and after his employment with the IMB. Even during his enlistment in the Air Force, Kirkland sought out ways to stay connected to his local church and encouraged those around him to do the same.

Kirkland and his first wife, Shirley, served with the IMB for 28 years. They served in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana and Botswana. When seeking missionary appointment, Kirkland recalled the day that he and Shirley answered the Lord’s call on their life, together.

“Upon our second visit to Delaney Street Baptist Church, we made public our faith in Christ and were baptized,” he wrote. “It was about this time, too, that God spoke to my heart about the preaching ministry and made me sensitive to his leadership concerning mission work. Shirley and I discussed it with our pastor and surrendered our lives to God’s call.”

Shirley preceded her husband in death. She passed away in December 2001.

Kirkland is survived by his wife, Diane Kirkland, daughters Cindy Cone and Sharon Timms, stepdaughter Teresa Ponder, stepson Raymond Ponder and their respective families.

A memorial service was held November 6, 2019, at Mountain View Baptist Church of Thomaston, Georgia.

Read an obituary here.