|Born||March 20, 1916
|Died||February 23, 2006
|Spouse(s)||Ruth Langston McMahan Stallings|
The Reverend Earl Stallings was an American Baptist minister and activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Earl Stallings was born March 20, 1916, in Durham, North Carolina. He died when he was 89 in his retirement home in Lakeland, Florida, on February 23. He left behind a son and two grandchildren: A son named Jim Stallings; Grandson James Stalling; granddaughter Meredith Beeson Stallings; and several nephews including Carl Bowen and Bryant Stallings. Earl had a wife of 64 years, Ruth Langston McMahan Stallings, who died in April 2001.
Stallings dropped out of school at 16 to take care of his brothers and sisters by managing a fruit stand in Knoxville, Tennessee after his mother died. Stallings was forced into the workforce by The Great Depression, and returned to high school at age 21, graduating at 23. Upon graduation, he entered Carson-Newman where he majored in history and joined Alpha Phi Omega. He earned a master of theology degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He was a quarter time student pastor of Buffalo Grove Baptist Church in Jefferson City in 1940. He was then a half time student pastor in 1947–51 at Dumplin Creek Baptist Church in Jefferson City.
He was a full-time pastor in the following churches: from 1951 to 1962 he was at First Baptist Church, Ocala Florida; 1962–65 he was at First Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama; 1965–77 he was at First Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia; 1977–85 he was at SBC home Mission Board, Director of Christian Ministries in the Arizona SBC.
A Call for Unity
Reverend Earl Stallings was one of eight signers of the open letter "A Call For Unity," which precipitated a critical response from Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Despite this, Stallings was the only clergy whom King praised by name in his letter, given that Stallings had opened the doors of his church to black worshipers. This same action angered members of his white congregation. One of the blacks allowed in was the civil rights leader Andrew Young. As a result of his moderate stance, Stallings became a target of both conservative segregationists and liberal integrationists. Tension over the issue so divided the church that it eventually split over the issue, following Stallings' departure.
- Jon Thurber (March 21, 2006). "Rev. Earl Stallings, 89; Won King's Praise for Opening Doors to Blacks". Los Angeles Times.
- Jim Stallings (Fall 2007). "Rev. James Earl Stallings Collection" (PDF).
- Robert Marus (March 6, 2006). "Earl Stallings, Alabama pastor caught in civil rights squeeze, dead at 89". Associated Baptist Press.
- Cary McMullen (March 19, 2006). "Pastor Suffered for Attempts to Make Peace Between Two Historic Forces". The Ledger.
- Slobokan (February 25, 2006). "Rev. Earl Stallings Dies". Slobokan's Site O' Schtuff. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012.