Arlington pastor died of West Nile, but loved ones won't let him be just a statistic

Richard Pollard “Dick” Lord of Arlington loved the outdoors, and often drew parallels between nature and religion in his sermons at Rush Creek Christian Church, the southwest Arlington congregation that he founded and served for 28 years.

Rev. Lord died Sunday afternoon at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital of West Nile virus, Tarrant County’s first victim this year of the mosquito-borne illness.

But his friends, family, and church flock want people to see so much more than a tragic health statistic.

Janice Pettigrew Harris Lord, his wife of 32 years, described her 82-year-old husband as a robust man who played golf six days a week and was a voracious reader. The still-active minister was diabetic but controlled the disease by watching his diet and with medication.

“Two weeks ago he was teaching Sunday school, and he’d be preaching today if he wasn’t dead,” his wife said. “He read all the time, and always had new ideas for lessons and sermons, gold-plated nugget stuff.”

Rev. Lord was born April 7, 1935, in Arkansas City, Kansas, to Jesse Rollin Lord and Josephine Pollard Lord. He held a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Methodist University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University.

Rev. Lord was new to the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ denomination when he founded Rush Creek Christian Church in 1978 on a former pig farm at 2401 SW Green Oaks Blvd. in Arlington. He stepped back for a year after retirement in 2006, then rejoined Rush Creek as a member.

Rev. Lord continued to serve, in interim pastor roles with various North Texas churches. He also taught Sunday school at Rush Creek.

His passions were history, social justice ministry and “a desire to grow within the mystery of God,” Janice Lord said.

The Lords expanded their interest in interfaith ministry after 9/11 by bringing together groups of Jewish, Muslim and Christian believers to combat suspicion and create friendship. The Daughters of Abraham now consists of four groups in the North Texas area, and the Sons of Abraham is growing as well.

Ron Clegg of Arlington was a founding member of the Sons of Abraham along with Rev. Lord, Wilson and several other men. His wife, Rita, was in the Daughters group and the men would often be together at a Daughters function, so they decided to form their own group about seven years ago.

“We decided to draw off the experience of our wives,” said Clegg, a member of Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Arlington. “Dick was very involved in the leadership, and the past two years or so, he stepped back and we took over more of the leadership.”

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