Jose Arturo Zepeda


José Arturo Zepeda
April 8, 1938 – November 8, 2017

José was born April 8, 1938 in Coatepeque, El Salvador. He was the oldest of four children born to Arturo Zepeda and Carmen Castellanos. José met Carmen Saravia in 1959 while they were studying for their Master’s Degree in Education at the Escuela Normal Superior in San Salvador, El Salvador. José and Carmen married December 23, 1963 at The Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ church in Hattiesburg, MS; when José was a Spanish teacher in the Perry County school system. They resided in New Augusta, MS until their return to San Salvador, El Salvador the spring of 1964.

In July 1980 José and Carmen moved from El Salvador to Memphis, TN with their four children: Lorena, Jaime, Fernando and Lissette; with the purpose to provide them a good professional education. Soon José found a Baptist church that had a Vietnamese mission and a Hispanic mission; that was Temple Baptist Church and Zepeda and his family joined that church. Four years later due to the growth of the Hispanic population in Memphis, Zepeda saw the need to minister to all the Hispanics and that was when he got the call from the Lord to lead the church. With the assistance of Shelby Baptist Association and Temple Baptist Church Zepeda was ordained to preach the gospel.

In September 1989, Zepeda was taking seminary classes at the headquarters of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Brentwood, TN when he had a massive heart attack. After his recovery he continued ministering the growing church and Zepeda was led to establish the First Hispanic Church of Tennessee, admitted in the TN Baptist Convention and the Shelby Baptist Association. The church assisted local Hispanics in the area.

Along with his main supporter Dr. James Thomas, they both were awarded the “Thousand Points of Lights” and the medal was presented by George H. Bush on the grounds of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, TN.

Pastor Zepeda and Dr. Thomas established the Hispanic ministry at the Federal Correction Institution of Memphis, where they ministered to Spanish speaking inmates for 18 years. To this day, this ministry continues at the Federal Correction Institution in Memphis, TN.

As a bi-vocational Pastor and under the leadership of Zepeda, the First Hispanic Baptist Church opened new ministries in the following churches: Southland Baptist Church, Parkway Village Baptist Church and Ridgeway Baptist Church all in Memphis, TN. After retiring from his secular job, Zepeda became full time Pastor at Cherokee Baptist Church, leading the First Hispanic Baptist Church and their ministry. Zepeda retired from full time Pastor after ministering for 20 years on August, 2005 and moved to Johnson City, TN with his wife, Carmen.

Zepeda and his wife Carmen quickly became involved in the Hispanic ministry in the Johnson City area. Pastor William Burton of Iglesia La Gran Comisión of Morristown was founding the lay workers seminary when he approached Zepeda to become one of the instructors. Zepeda taught for two years. It was during this time that he became aware of a small Hispanic church in Grey, TN that was searching for a Pastor. Zepeda obeyed his calling and pastored the Agua de Vida church for three years until his failing health prevented him from the full time ministry. Agua de Vida church is part of the Holston Baptist Association. He continued to work first as an interpreter and chaplain with Mountain States and finally as an interpreter with ETSU Pediatric Department.

Zepeda’s last day on earth was Wednesday, November 8, 2017. He is survived by his wife of nearly 54 years, Carmen Zepeda; brother Carlos Zepeda; sister Dina Estrada; daughter Lorena Watson; son Jaime Zepeda and daughter-in-law Lisa Zepeda; son Fernando Zepeda and daughter-in-law Ferrissa Zepeda; daughter Lissette Tant and son-in-law Clive Sorhaindo; grandsons Nicholas Watson,(Heather) Nathan Watson, Caleb Zepeda, Tyler Zepeda and Van Tant; and great-grand daughter Leanna Watson.

Zepeda identifies with his purpose in life with the following scriptures:
Isiah 40:31 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Hymns – It is well with My Soul by Horatio Spafford
Where He Leads Me (I Can Hear the my Savior Calling…)

Visitation will be at 9:30 am on November 25, 2017, at Boone Trail Baptist Church. Service will begin at 11 am at the church followed by a graveside service at Fairview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family invites memorial contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Would you like to leave an eulogy or condolence for Jose Arturo Zepeda? If so, simply click HERE

11-26-2017 Charlene Elliott
Carmen, My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Jose was one of the nicest men that I have ever met. He certainly was an example of what a real Christian should be like. He will be greatly missed in our Silver Sneakers' Class. Hope to see you back soon in class. May the peace of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. God bless you, Charlene Elliott
11-26-2017 Larry Easterling
José was such a great person! He helped so many people at JCMC through the Chaplain’s office. I will always remember him as someone with great faith and and a very compassionate heart. May God comfort you family members. He loved you all so much.
11-25-2017 Cindy and Louis Mogy
Our thoughts and prayers are with your family today and always. May God Bless you with strength to get through this difficult time with the loss of your loved one. You all have wonderful memories to share of your family time with your father. He was a great inspiration to me and my family. His words of wisdom and encouragement and his laugh will always be remembered in our hearts. Prayers to Carmen and all your family. You are well loved by family and friends. Call when you feel like talking. I'm only a phone call away. Love Cindy and Louis.
11-24-2017 James Merrell Buddy
Carmen this is Buddy. I am sorry for your lost. If there is anything I can do please let me know. God is great and I am thankful that his son Jesus made a way for all us to have salvation. May God's peace be with you and his strength help you in this time of need. Sincerely Buddy Merrell
11-24-2017 Sharon Cameron
Many fond memories as we waved our napkins over our head and danced. I loved traveling you two. Hope to see you (Carmen) at Lifestyles or the Senior Center. Much love and prayers to Carmen and family. We will miss Jose and his wisdom about life. Love, Sharon Cameron (Formerly Pinnacle Club, Mountain States Health Alliance)
11-22-2017 David Kalwinsky
My deepest sympathy to you and your family on your loss. Jose was a remarkable individual who made a positive impression on all who met him. We were privileged to have him help with Hispanic families at ETSU Pediatrics. I admired his positive attitude and determination while at cardiac rehab. A very good man who will be missed.
11-21-2017 John Mashburn
I am greatly sorrowed for the loss of a very kind man. He will be missed by family, friends and the community. I will be praying for all of you
11-21-2017 The Leake Family
Please accept our sympathy in your loss. Our thoughts and prayers will be with your family. Greg and Melissa Leake Grayson and Grant


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