History of the Restoration Movement

Benjamin Lee Fudge


Source: Facebook: FOR Group - Gardner S. Hall, 04.25.2022

Benjamin Lee Fudge: Reflections of a Son
Edward Fudge

Benjamin Lee Fudge, known to many as Bennie Lee Fudge, was born April 5, 1914, and died following a sudden but brief illness on February 5, 1972. His funeral was held at the Eastside Church of Christ, Athens, Alabama, February 7, 1972, and his body was laid to rest in Roselawn Cemetery, Athens, Alabama, in sight of Athens Bible School, which he was instrumental in founding. The following are the reflections of his oldest son, written one week after the funeral.

So many thoughts come to mind this morning as I think about Daddy. The simple phrase "he trusted in God" seems so appropriate a summation of his life. When my 17-year-old brother Paul went to the hospital Saturday before last, minutes after Daddy's death, he was directed to the chapel where Mother was. Upon entering the room (he later said) his first thoughts were the words from Job, "The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Paul wrote these words on our family note-board at home, where they greeted the eye of every caller during those days that followed—and gave such strength to all of us. Paul's faith was also Daddy's faith. He trusted in God.

"The faith of thy mother . . ." the apostle wrote to Timothy, and these words come to mind now. Through nearly twenty-nine years with Daddy, Mother was in my opinion the perfect example of what a Christian wife should be—and as for her role as a mother, six children and three daughters-in-law stand ready to testify. Her faith had been learned early in life, as the daughter of Brother and Sister W. N. Short in Africa. Now the Lord answered Mother's prayer for strength to join in every song at the funeral, and while the rest of us had an idea of supporting her, we often found ourselves leaning on her instead. She will carry on Daddy's ministry of spreading the Word of God through the printed page in The C.E.I. Publishing Company and associated outlets, God being her helper. I think now of Mother's faith.

"He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." This phrase from Scripture came to mind more than once last week, and I do not know of any word which summarized Daddy's life-goal more than this one: service. As we stood beside his casket while hundreds and hundreds of people walked by to pay their respects and give us a word of comfort, we were impressed by the many faces we did not know—of people he had helped in one way or another during the years. Old people came by who depended on his daily greeting as he walked to work. Others could not be there because they were bedfast, but they will miss his regular visits to read the Word of God and pray with them. One badly crippled man walked over a mile through bad weather to pay his respects. He lives alone and operates a little concession stand near Daddy's bookstore on the square. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at our house included a trip to town with a special plate for Sam. Sam will miss Daddy.

I have no idea how many preachers remarked concerning the times they had called on him for advice, for answers to a Bible question, for simple conversation or an encouraging word. Many an evening meal at home was interrupted by the telephone ring and someone, somewhere, wanting to ask a Bible question.

"No respect of persons" comes to mind. Daddy never had any use for those who played favorites, or exalted preachers above other Christians. He often said that his greatest aim in preaching (besides giving the pure Word of God) was to be simple. He preached for the same people he lived for—those who lacked most of this world's goods and often its formal education—but people rich in faith and good works. This knack for expressing great truths of the Bible in simple language served him well during eleven years of daily radio preaching, and only God knows the lives he influenced for Christ through that medium. Now he was dead. Little children hugged mother's neck and said he meant a lot to them. The mayor of Athens wrote her a letter. People who misspelled words sent cards of condolence. Well-known 0brethren paid him tributes. People known to few others came to say they cared and would miss him, too. They all mattered to him, and they all strengthened our hearts.

A Christian Only

"A Christian only. . . ." This phrase is not from Scripture, but it expresses a goal of Daddy's life—and one he sought to instill in all whom his influence touched. He was not a "Church of Christ Christian"—if there is such a thing; he was simply a Christian who believed what he understood the Bible to teach and practiced it—and that put him with those known as churches of Christ. No party within the church could claim him, though every child of God could. His fellowship with God's children was limited only by their acceptance of him—so long as they had obeyed Acts 2:38 and were sincerely trying to please God, to lead a holy life and to abstain from a factious spirit. If he opposed congregational support of institutions or certain organizational arrangements, if he took a certain stand on "the war question," or "the covering question," or any other question or issue—it was only because he thought that was God's will—never because he belonged to any kind of party or segment for which he waved a flag or to which he gave allegiance. No man ever stood firmer for his Biblical convictions—and no man in our time suffered more for them. But no man, Ϊ believe, ever loved more those who differed with him, or tried harder to enjoy Christian brotherhood with all God's children.

Christ Magnified by Death

Years ago Daddy had said that his funeral was to be so far as possible a happy event, that it was to include the song "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less," and that it was to emphasize the grace of God. In keeping with this, there was congregational singing (700 voices strong): "Our God, He Is Alive!" "We Saw Thee Not," and "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less."

Doyle Banta spoke of what Daddy had meant to him. Irven Lee read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah and pointed us to him who died so we all might live. A. J. (Jack) Rollings led our minds to the Throne as we poured out our hearts to the Father of mercies. R. L. Andrews paid a tribute to Daddy out of his experiences. Those who knew Daddy could best appreciate Brother Andrews' reflection that he was probably quite busy already greeting and visiting with Moses, David, Elijah and other saints of days gone by. Sewell Hall summed up by saying that Daddy was a sinner—just like the rest of mankind. All his good works couldn't save him, or remove his sins. But, he noted, we have great confidence and assurance, for Daddy had believed the gospel and had been joined to Christ in baptism. And by faith he had lived all his days—never intending to boast of his own righteousness or merit but always in the cross of Christ. His ambition was never to be good enough himself to be saved. His ambition was rather to be found in Christ—not having any righteousness but that which is by faith in Christ Jesus. Because this was his goal, and because his good works testified to such a faith, we have every hope that Daddy is now present with the Lord, and that he will certainly be among those saints whom Christ will bring with him at his coming. The congregation finally joined in praise to God as we followed the body Daddy once occupied from the church building, singing together, "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord!"

With such glorious hope, with such assurance of faith, with such knowledge of God's marvelous provisions of grace and love to us sinners, with such courage in the midst of grief and tragedy, with such praise to God in the face of Satan's most evil work—with all this, I say, God's saints on that day gave the devil a stunning blow, and God was magnified through his Son Jesus Christ. That, too, was Daddy's goal, that Christ should be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death.

We look forward now to the day when we will join all God's saints of all the ages in that final and eternal victory taunt against the devil—that day when Christ shall return, and the dead will be raised, and with our Lord we will behold the destruction of Satan and of death itself—chanting together as we reunite to be with our Christ forever, "O Death, where is thy sting! O Grave, where is thy victory!"

For this we live.

-Edward Fudge, Gospel Advocate, February 12, 1972, pages 154, 155

Bennie Lee Fudge

The minister of the First Baptist Church in Athens, Ala. opened services last Sunday morning with these words: "I'm stunned this morning by the loss of a real friend - Bennie Lee Fudge." This well expressed the feeling of thousands of citizens of Athens and Limestone County. Those who counted him their brother felt an even greater sense of loss. One said it this way: "When I go to town, it is as though the courthouse were missing from the square."

The respect in which he was held was indicated by the hundreds who came to the funeral home on Sunday in an almost solid stream over a period of several hours; by an assembly of some 700 for funeral services on Monday; and by the banks of flowers and scores of calls that came in from all over the nation. So many who came had stories to tell of kindnesses shown and services rendered,that we could not but remember Dorcas whose mourners, on the occasion of her death, stood by "weeping and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made."


An older generation remembers a young man of unusually sober mind, who very early in life accepted a large share of responsibility for the rearing of seven younger brothers and sisters. They remember the limitations this placed upon his efforts to attend school regularly; but happily they recall his success in both endeavors and his very high standing in every graduating class of which he was a part, first in Athens, then at David Lipscomb and finally at Abilene Christian. They recall his return to the county which all his life he called home, and his tireless efforts to see Christ preached in every community of it.

Here another generation joins in the reminiscence, recalling his dreams for Athens Bible School, his major role in the initiation of it, and his uninterrupted contributions to its success over a period of twenty-nine years. Widely remembered, too, is his work of broadcasting the gospel by radio, six days a week, for eleven years without missing a broadcast. Most of this time he was simply answering the questions mailed in by listeners. When others took the broadcast, people used the phone or stopped by the bookstore to get answers in person from Bennie Lee. They appreciated the simple Bible answers he gave and marvelled at the breadth of Bible knowledge that made them possible.

A younger generation, many of whom attended the funeral services, do not remember these things. But they think of him as the father of Edward, Henry, Robert, Benjamin, Paul, and Nancy - a father who was always concerned for his children, yet eager for them to form their own convictions and stand on their own two feet. They remember seeing him bounding along East Washington Street toward the bookstore with a bounce that suggested there were springs in his knees, refusing all offers of transportation, communing instead with every bird or flower along the way. They remember his light burning far into the night as they passed his place of business. They remember one who always counted his young friends among his favorite friends, who was always excited by an opportunity to study with them the way of the Lord.


But as we sat among the large assembly of those who came to pay respects, we could not help but feel that there was a host of others present in spirit. We thought of men scattered across the world preaching Christ - men who always found at the Fudge's home an open door and a welcome for a meal, for a night's lodging, or for a week's visit - men who were always encouraged in their work and assisted in finding support. He and his family knew well how to "set (them) forward on their journey worthily of God," and without ever leaving this country they were genuine "fellow-helpers for the truth."

During the service we thought of those who knew him only through his publications, as author and publisher of the "Use Your Bible" workbooks and of other similar series which have attained wide usage among churches of Christ and in some denominational bodies. The Gospel Digest, of which he served as editor and associate editor for a number of years, is still favorably mentioned, though the last issue was printed eleven years ago. Numerous other booklets and pamphlets which he published have edified many whom he never met.

Nor can we forget those who were influenced by his personal correspondence. This writer especially recalls a journey of 1,000 miles from Eastern Nigeria to Ghana in 1958. There were no known Christians after the New Testament order in that country at that time. From Accra we travelled the fifty miles into the heart of Ghana to the town of Swedru, then eight miles to the little village of Nkum. There in the typical African mud house, we found J. O. Gaidoo, a Ghanian who had only recently resigned his post as a Major in the Salvation Army. Instrumental in that resignation were the well-read and carefully marked pamphlets and letters which we saw in a stack on a table. They were from Bennie Lee Fudge. It was, of course, with Bennie Lee's encouragement and assistance that we were in Ghana to meet him. And we found his heart well prepared for reception of the truth which he eventually obeyed. This godly man converted some fifty-five souls before his untimely death. Thus the work was launched in Ghana, due entirely to the initiative of a man who never saw Africa. Years later, a visit to the Philippines revealed his widespread influence among brethren there, many of whom he had assisted in numerous ways. Present at the service, in the heart of this writer, were these men from the Philippines, along with Ghanians, Rhodesians Nigerians, and a host of others who may not know of his passing for weeks to come.


Funeral services were conducted at the building of the Eastside church in Athens, a church which he served as evangelist for eleven years. The service was planned by the family. Opening prayer and remarks were by Doyle Banta, long-time friend and co-worker. Clinton Brackeen, who had worked with him in many meetings, led inspirational congregational singing. Other longtime associates participated in the remainder of the service: Irven Lee reading the scripture, A. J. Rollings leading prayer, and R. L. Andrews speaking. It was the privilege of this writer to also participate.

Those who participated felt keenly the incompleteness of their tribute to a good man. Yet this was not their prime purpose. They were asked by the family to honor Bennie Lee's desire that at such a service, Christ be glorified as the source and inspiration of whatever he had accomplished and that the grace of God be cited as the basis for all their hope. It is hoped that this was accomplished. The service was climaxed by the singing of the following hymn - a favorite of the deceased and a request of the family:

"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In ev'ry high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand."

-Gardner Hall, The Gospel Guardian, March 9, 1972, pages 1[649], 12[660]

Benjamin Lee Fudge Dies
February 5, 1972

Shortly after arrival at the hospital in Athens, Alabama, Saturday afternoon, February 5, Bennie Lee Fudge succumbed to complications setting in with a severe case of influenza. We are shocked, troubled and deeply saddened in the loss of our colleague and brother-in-Christ.

Bennie Lee's service in the field of class literature, religious books and Christian journalism has made a worthy impact on this generation of Christians. His ministry was not only a personal pulpit and classroom service. He entered the homes, classrooms and pulpits here and abroad through his many publications. What a worthy mark this man made on the 20th century church! His involvement in the Athens Bible School and in numerous other projects dedicated to the upbuilding of the Christian life reflects the broad achievements of this man of God. Consider the fine Christian family of this man - five Christian boys and a noble Christian companion, Sybil.

Bennie Lee Fudge will be sorely missed. The witness of his good and productive life is one in which "by it he being dead yet speaketh."

We are deeply grieved by the passing of our friend and brother, as many of you are. But we move on, along the way, as he would want us to, to reunion of God's people on the other side.

A more extended report on the life, death, and funeral of brother Fudge will appear later. W.E.W.

-Fanning Yater Tant, The Gospel Guardian, February 17, 1972, page 2, [618]

LtoR - Bennie Lee Fudge, A.J. Rollings and Irven Lee
Source: Facebook: FOR Group - Gardner S. Hall, 04.25.2022

Directions To Grave

The Fudge family plot is located in Roselawn Cemetery in northern Athens, Alabama on Hwy. 31. The GPS below is the actual location of the grave.

GPS Location
34°47'42.6"N 86°57'12.3"W

William Eric Fudge
October 6, 1970
April 25, 1987

Edith Beatrice Fudge
January 25, 1916
June 21, 2011

Benjamin Lee Fudge
April 5, 1914
February 5, 1972

Photos Taken 02.06.2015
Webpage Produced 01.08.2024
Courtesy Of Scott Harp

Special Recognition: Many thanks to C. Wayne Kilpatrick for his assistance in finding the grave of Bennie Lee Fudge.


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