Church founder succumbs

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 17, 2007

Faithful, Courageous, Committed, Devoted, Compassionate and Strong are all words that describe Bishop Valeriano Melendez Jr., a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He was the loving and devoted husband of Eleanor Melendez for over 52 years. He also was a caring father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle, and pastor. On December 11, 2007, Bishop Melendez was transitioned to his heavenly home. He fought a good fight, he finished his course and now he is forever in the presence of the Lord. His mission in life was to please the Lord. He looked forwarded to hearing the Lord say “Well done my good and faithful servant.” To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Valeriano Melendez Jr. was born on October 24, 1934 in Harlem, New York. He was one of five children born to the late Valeriano and Alicia Melendez. In 1954 Bishop Melendez married Eleanor Serrett. To this union, they were blessed with four wonderful children: Valeriano Jr., Delia, Denise and Eric. In 1953, he joined the United States Maries and in 1955 he was honorably discharged. He then became employed with the Pennsylvania Railroad where he remained as a conductor until his move to North Carolina. In 1956 Bishop Melendez accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior while attending a Billy Graham Crusade in New York City. A short time later he was baptized in the Holy Spirit while under the leadership of the late Bishop Jesse Winley at Soul Saving Station, New York.

In 1969, Bishop Melendez came to Ahoskie, North Carolina to hold revival meetings at the East End Church of God in Christ. It was during this time that he developed a burden for Ahoskie, and be begun commuting from New York bi-monthly to conduct revival services in the home of the late Mother Willie A. Sessoms. As the membership grew, he rented the first building which was a little hat shop on the corner of Main and First Streets. Souls were continually being added to the Kingdom of God as the Word went forth in power and demonstration. The Lord confirmed His Word with signs following and many were saved, healed and delivered. In 1972, church membership grew so fast that they had to move to a larger building on Maple Street. In 1977, Soul Saving Station moved into a brand new edifice on the Ahoskie-Cofield Road. Because of the growing membership, a larger edifice was erected in 1992.

Today, Soul Saving Station has several outreach ministries which includes: Street Ministry, Prison Ministry, Rehabilitation Support Ministry, Youth Ministry, Evangelism Ministry and Bible School. The Lord had given Bishop Melendez a vision and mission for the town of Ahoskie n to go forth in the power and anointing of the Lord to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. To tell people that Jesus had paid for their sins through his death, burial and resurrection. It is God’s will that we all be saved and come into the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bishop Melendez’s life was a labor of love. He rejoiced in seeing the people’s lives changed as they were transformed by the renewing of their minds with the Word of God. He was in the business of winning souls to Christ. He wanted to take as many people with him to heaven as possible.

He recently authored his first book “Jesus the Junkman,” his autobiography which describes how he thought of himself as being totally insignificant and out of the arc of safety but God cleaned him up and used him mightily to win souls for the Kingdom.

Bishop Melendez was often described as a 20th century Apostelic Prophet of Jesus Christ. He was a renowned speaker, known for his simplistic messages that transcended all barriers of race, gender, age and people of all walks of life. He humbly served God and his community through the ministries that he established at Soul Saving Station.

He leaves a legacy of love and faith to his devoted wife Eleanor Melendez, his loving children: Valeriano Melendez III (wife Tonya), Delia M. Freeman (husband Johnny L.), Denise M. Gatling (husband) Melvin, Eric Melendez; grandchildren: Antonio Raphael Gatling, Ramael Gatling, Raquel Gatling, Kimberly Melendez, Latoya Sutton, Eric Melendez

Jr., Valeriano Melendez IV, and Shadia Freeman; great-grandchildren: Ammani Gatling and Emanuel Sutton; two brothers, Gerald Melendez (Vivian) and Anthony Melendez (wife Delores); three sister-in-laws: Evelyn Priestly, Muriel Singleton and Mildred Serrett. He assisted in raising his nephew, Angelo Melendez and cousin Henry Jackson III who both are now a part of the ministry. He also had a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and loving friends.

A wake service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Soul Saving. Official services n Bishop Felton Hawkins at 1 p.m. Saturday at Soul Saving Station. Burial will be in the church cemetery. Hunter’s Funeral Home, Inc., Ahoskie, is in charge.