Kenneth Ray Looney Sr., an ordained bishop and longtime pastor in The Church of God in North Carolina, passed away peacefully early in the morning on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Cartersville, Georgia.
He was surrounded by his beloved wife, Phyllis Constance, their four sons and their wives and families, as they sang and worshiped Jesus as he entered the beautiful gates of that city. Pastor Kenneth Looney preached so exuberantly and often for almost seven decades in ministry. He was a month shy of his 90th birthday.
He was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina, on Sept. 15, 1932, to George C. and Ocie Looney. He was raised in the Church of God and influenced by his heritage of ministry by his great-grandfather, TJ Looney, and great-great-grandfather, Moses Abraham Looney, who were pioneer ministers in the Church of God. His father, George, served as a police officer in his career of service.
Kenneth accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in Wilmington, North Carolina, as a teenager.
In high school he played basketball on the Grover High school team and was voted the MVP his junior year. After high school, he attended Lee College (now Lee University) in Cleveland, a Christian Bible school where he met the love of his life in the business office paying bills enrolling. He often joked, “we've been paying bills ever since!” After finishing Lee College, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in religion in 1955.
He was ordained as a bishop in the Church of God in 1962.
Leaving college as a ministry team, Ken and Connie were appointed their first church in full-time ministry, pastoring in Chocowinity, North Carolina, and also pastoring churches in Jamestown, Raleigh, Franklinton, Reidsville, Hayesville, Winston Salem Kings Mountain, Lumberton and Goldsboro — all wonderful Church of God pastorates in the state of North Carolina.
The state overseer of The Church of God in North Carolina recognized his gift as a mentor to pastors and appointed him to the office of evangelism director of the Eastern North Carolina Churches of God. He helped plant and start many churches and encouraged development in ministry.
He ended his full-time pastoral ministry in Mooresville, North Carolina, at Mooresville Church of God.
Pastor Looney was noted as a people's pastor, a mentoring pastor and a great encourager to young pastors and their wives. He gave them many opportunities to develop their preaching skills in his pulpit. He loved helping many young men and women who eventually became successful pastors and speakers throughout the USA. He loved the pastor's brotherhood and loved his church fellowship, The Church of God.
After retirement from full-time pastoring, Ken and Connie moved to their cherished retirement home in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Kenneth began working for the Charlotte Hornets NBA part-time and the Charlotte Arena, eventually working for Michael Jordan and winning the employee of the month. In their retirement years as well, Ken and Connie loved traveling to see their children and grandchildren.
Whatever Kenneth did, he did with passion and excellence, always serving.
In the last years of his ministry he would help churches and pastors to serve by preaching Sundays and Wednesdays whenever they needed a speaker, help or advice.
Pastor Looney was always a pastor to the end of his journey here, even in sickness he always encouraged and was pointing folks to Jesus and loving his family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Ocie Looney; brother, Cecil (Barbara) Looney; and sister, Hilda (Bob) Williams.
He is survived by his loving, loyal wife of 68 years, Phyllis Constance Bumgarner Looney; four sons, Mike Looney, K. Ray (Shelia) Looney, Phillip (Tammy) Looney and David Looney, who all served in full-time ministry following their dad's footsteps. This included them singing nationally as the "Looney Brothers" whom Ken and Connie supported tirelessly throughout the boys' lives.
He loved to sing along with his sons often in church services or special concerts.
Kenneth was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He loved his sons and was well known for being a great father, and leader in the home. He was always faithful to church and his Church of God events, attending them faithfully.
His grandchildren were so special to him, they include Lauren (Chuck), Jo Don, Victoria (Stephen), Jennifer (Mike), Candace (Kirk), Kristen (Justin), Jessica, Phillip Matthew (Michelle), Olivia (Anthony), Reagan and Peyton; and great-grandchildren, Raelyn, Houston, Reed, Sawyer, Lincoln, Mason, Brody, Leighanna, Carmen, Charley Rae, Lenorah, Rooney and Willow Grace.
A Celebration of Life service was conducted at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, at The Church at Liberty Square with Bishop Terry Hart, Dr. Joe E. Edwards and the Rev. Barry Garland officiating. Music was provided by the Looney Brothers.
Interment immediately followed in Providence Cemetery.
Serving as pallbearers were his grandsons, Stephen Foote, Phillip Matthew Looney, Reagan Looney, Justin Phillips, Mike Ezell, Anthony Bucciero, Kirk Walden, Chuck Liebal and Jo Don Looney. Honorary pallbearers were his great-grandchildren, Lincoln Ezell, Reed Ezell, Sawyer Ezell, Houston Walden, Mason Phillips, Brody Phillips and Rooney Foote.
Visitation was from 2:30 p.m. until the hour of service Thursday at The Church at Liberty Square.
Please visit www.owenfunerals.com to post tributes and sign the online register book.
Owen Funeral Home, 12 Collins Drive, Cartersville, GA 30120-0911, was in charge of arrangements.
You may also share your condolences and your memories with the Looney family at www.jimrushfuneralhomes.com.
This obituary was provided for the family courtesy of the Jim Rush Funeral and Cremation Services, North Ocoee Chapel.
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