Obituary: Joy Lynn Champion

CHICAGO, IL (February 13, 2015) — Joy Lynn Champion, a bi-vocational pastor with Modesto Covenant Church and a former Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) executive board member, died on February 12 after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 66.

Born Joy Lynn Handwerker on May 22, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee, she was raised in Fresno, California, and graduated from the University of Pacific in Stockton, where she met Darrell Champion, her husband of 42 years.

For many years, Joy taught sixth grade in Lodi and Modesto school districts. In 1973 she was instrumental in bringing the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) to her local high schools and went on to serve as an FCA area director in addition to leading a variety of other outreach ministries in the Modesto area. In 2005, she graduated from Fresno Pacific Seminary and in 2010 became licensed bi-vocationally with the ECC.

Over the past decade, Joy served as the congregational care pastor at Modesto Covenant and was elected as a board member for the PSWC. She had recently expanded her work to include outreach ministries at Covenant Village in Turlock.

In addition to her husband, Joy is survived by two daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

A homegoing celebration will take place at Modesto Covenant on February 16 at 11 a.m. Gifts in her memory can be made to Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary at 1717 S. Chestnut Ave., Fresno, CA 93702-4709; Joy Champion Oakdale FCA Sports Camp Scholarship, 5724 N. Fresno St., Fresno, CA 93710; Modesto Covenant Church Building Renovation Fund, 913 Floyd Ave., Modesto, CA 95350.

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  1. In 1972 Miss Handwerker ( she was still unmarried) was my 6th grade teacher at Leroy Nichols school in Lodi, CA. It was her first year and she was a great teacher. It was a great year and the experience always stayed with me. Its sad to hear of her passing I hope the best for her family.

  2. I first met and served with Joy on the PSWC Executive Board during a time that my wife was battling breast cancer. Because Joy had already been through it once, and was going through it again, we became fast friends. She was encouraging to me and to my wife. Her love for Jesus permeated everything she did and said. I will miss her.

  3. I served on the PSWC Exec Board with her and appreciated her passion to serve God, even seeking Covenant licensure at a later stage in life, in the midst of her bout with cancer.  Her desire to serve and God and the church was always evident and she thought creatively about how to reach others for Christ.  While she is welcomed home with open arms to be with Jesus, we will miss her this side of eternity.  My condolences to Darrell and her immediate family on their loss, but take consolation in heaven’s gain…
    Pastor Cameron Wu-Cardona
    Grace Covenant Church, South San Francisco

  4. Joy and I were classmates in seminary. Since there were only about three of us Covenanters in an MB seminary, and since we served churches only 10 miles apart, we connected and had some meaningful conversations over the years. She was serious about her work but had a good sense of humor and a love for the church and God’s people. I am sorry to hear about her passing.

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