Church coffee redemption: Remembering Jackson Boyett

By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 12.05.11
FEBRUARY 2014 UPDATE: The driver whose car hit the Boyetts, Terri Elmore, has been found guilty of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison.
For all their good works, churches are more like gas stations when it comes to coffee. Church coffee is a little taste of hell, God’s reminder to be good or this is what awaits you on that eternal coffee break.
So when Jackson Boyett offered me coffee at Dayspring Fellowship this summer, I politely declined. I was there at Dayspring to help my boss, John Jackson of Renaissance Systems, fix something in the soundsystem. My job was to call 911 in case he electrocuted himself. In the absence of sparks, I was tending to the daily care and feeding of my new website, I had work to do.
But Jackson Boyett wouldn’t be denied. As Dayspring’s pastor, he was obliged to play host, especially for friends volunteering their time to help his church. “I make it a cup at a time,” he said. “Alfred’s Blend.” He made his coffee exactly like I make mine at home, by pouring hot water through a cone filter that sits on top of the cup, using the same blend of Anderson’s Coffee, one cup at a time. And so it was that I drank my first good cup of church coffee. And so it was that I made a connection with Jackson I figured would last a lifetime.
That connection was taken away Nov. 29, when Jackson and his wife, Barbara, were killed in a car accident on U.S. 290. I’ll never get to hear him preach a sermon in person, nor have another cup of coffee with him while we talk about the differences between Catholicism and Calvinism. I’ll have to settle for an online collection of his sermons from Dayspring’s website. His church and friends will celebrate his and Barbara's lives Tuesday (Dec. 6) at 10 a.m. with a funeral at High Pointe Baptist Church at 12030 Dessau Road.
Church people develop networks. Like a restaurant where chefs eat when they’re not on duty, Dayspring Fellowship at 5500 Ave. G is a church where people from other churches go for Easter and Christmas, to worship on a smaller and more personal scale. Jackson’s style was straightforward Bible-based delivery, punctuated by his own guitar and help from a pianist. He didn’t even like to have his voice amplified. He resisted at first, but settled for his natural voice being projected from speakers for his small congregation, which includes people who drive from Dripping Springs and Bastrop and other points that might seem unlikely for a church in the city. But Dayspring seems like it was lifted straight from the country, humble by megachurch standards.
Humble is an understatement. The folding chairs in Dayspring’s community room/kitchen/reading room are among the earth’s most uncomfortable, a truth I discovered while sitting through a gathering of the Northfield Neighborhood Association that uses the church for its meetings. I saw Jackson for the last time on Nov. 21 for one of those meetings, one that outgrew the community room and moved to the sanctuary. I think this delighted Jackson on some level, to have this decidedly secular group in the pews.
He had a twinkle about him, like those old Coca-Cola Santa Claus paintings. It was a kindness that extended even to the news of that night: That a thief had stolen the copper out of two of the church’s three AC units. The units were replaced, only to be hit again before a security fence could be built. He wondered aloud how bad things must be in a person’s life to risk so much for a few hundred dollars’ worth of copper.
These are the memories I take away of Jackson Boyett. That he gave me a book from the church’s library called “The Five Points of Calvinism.” That he had played “Mary Did You Know” on his guitar, and I couldn’t believe it, because I had a video on my laptop of my daughter singing that song, and he praised her voice and stage presence. That everything I knew about this beloved man had started with the simple community of a cup of coffee.
(Video stills from the Dayspring Fellowship website; coffee photo by Mike Sutter)