In Memory of Pastor Bill and Mary Jane Sammons
Man of God, husband, father, teacher, pastor, businessman, hunter, pig farmer, and friend, these are just a few of the titles we could place on P. Bill Sammons, Sr. To many he was their pastor and spiritual dad.
Woman of God, wife, mother, administrative assistant, cook, intercessor, knitter, behind the scenes woman of God, this was how we knew Mary Jane Sammons. Below is a tribute to their lives and how they impacted the Kingdom of God in the Delmarva region and beyond.
Special thanks to Bill Sammons, Jr. who was willing to share his mom and dad with all of us and whose writings contributed to the article below.
William (Bill) T. Sammons, Sr. of Milton, Delaware (1937 - 2023) met and married his greatest gift and high school sweetheart, Mary Jane (Green) Sammons (1937 - 2020). Everything they accomplished in life, they did together. MaryJane was truly P. Bill's helpmeet in every way. They graduated from Milton High School in 1954. Bill worked briefly at the Seaford Dupont plant and at Mohawk Electronics before joining Clyde Betts & Son, Inc, a Milton-based family farming operation. He ended up managing their hog operations, building it into the largest farrow to finish farm in the region. Mary Jane worked for 31 years as administrative assistant to the District Engineer in the Department of Transportation. She also was one of the founding members of Delaware State Employee's Federal Credit Union and served as a president and secretary of that organization over the years. In the 63 years of marriage before Mary Jane went to Jesus in 2020, they accomplished so much. Yet they would say, all the credit goes to the Lord Jesus Christ., to Whom they dedicated their lives.
In 1973, Bill and Mary Jane prayed a simple prayer that changed their lives, and countless thousands of lives afterwards. After talking to some Christians, Bill said “Lord, if this is real, then do it in me, because I don't know You like that.” He said he didn't hear thunder or see lightning, but he felt like someone had tampered with his Bible because it changed from a history book to a Book of Life. In those few moments the trajectory of their lives changed as they pursued Jesus and responded to His call on their lives. In the words of the Mike Murdock song, Pastor Bill prayed, "I want to spend my life mending broken people.” From that point onward both Pastor Bill and Mary Jane dedicated their lives for this purpose.
The "mending" began with becoming youth leaders at Goshen United Methodist Church and in time fostering 49 children and teenagers in a home near Milford, which they purchased solely to help runaways and at-risk children. Pastor Bill began to move in his gift of teaching with Bible Studies in his home while Mary Jane served and fed anyone who came.
In 1980, at the age of 43, Pastor Bill left the farm to study at Rhema Bible Training College in Tulsa, OK. He spent the next decade as a Bible teacher, traveling the United States with United Methodist Evangelist Earl Tyson. Mary Jane kept the home fires burning while continuing her work with the Department of Transportation. During his time traveling and teaching, he and Mary Jane also started Eagle's Nest Family Campground now known as Deep Branch Family Campground, and while he was home on weekends, he would lead a Bible study which quickly became popular with local families and not just campers.
In 1991, Pastor Bill, with Mary Jane by his side, having retired from the state the year prior, founded Eagle's Nest Fellowship Church with the core group of families that attended the Bible study. The church quickly grew to become one of the largest congregations in Southern Delaware.
Under his leadership, the ministry started a daycare, which eventually became Eagle's Nest Academy, an elementary school that today is Delmarva Christian School - Milton Campus. Eagle's Nest Fellowship Church later helped launch Crossroad Community Church. With their support, their son Bill Sammons, Jr. launched Christian radio in the state of Delaware with WXPZ-FM and now WKNZ 88.7 The Bridge. In later years, he taught our weekly Bible study called The Orchard and was supporting Union Street Meeting House, a Christian ministry in Milton. Perhaps Pastor Bill's biggest legacy is how he cared for Mary Jane who battled Alzheimer's for the last 19 years of her life. He retired from preaching and became her full-time caregiver in their home until she went to Jesus. In her latter years with tears in his eyes, he would say how he loved her more now than ever.
Even though they had only one biological child, many viewed Pastor Bill as Dad and Mary Jane as Mom; Mentors. Truth speakers. Teachers. Huggers. Friends. Faithful to God and each other, they accomplished so much in their lives simply obeying God and listening to the Holy Spirit. If they could sit down with you now, they would ask you: Who is Jesus to you and how do you know? Are you listening every day for His voice?