Lovern, James Chessel (1909–1987)

By: Norman W. Spellmann

Type: Biography

Published: March 1, 1995

Updated: November 11, 2020

James Chessel (Chess) Lovern, Methodist minister and bishop, son of James Oliver and Eugenia (Adams) Lovern, was born in Morgan County, Georgia, on August 21, 1909. He received his B.A. (1934) and B.D. (1935) degrees from Southern Methodist University. Admitted on trial into the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and ordained a deacon in 1935, he was received into full connection in 1937 and ordained an elder in 1939. His appointments included: associate pastor, First Methodist Church, San Angelo (1935–38); La Feria (1938–40); Edinburg (1940–43); Harlingen (1943–49); and Laurel Heights, San Antonio (1949–54). In 1954 he transferred to the Northwest Texas Conference, where he served First Methodist Church, Lubbock (1954–64). In 1964 he transferred to the Oklahoma Conference to serve St. Luke's, Oklahoma City (1964–72), and Boston Avenue, Tulsa (1972–80). He was elected a bishop of the United Methodist Church by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in 1976 and assigned to the San Antonio area. He retired in 1980. From 1980 to 1987 he was bishop-in-residence and professor of religion at Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth. He received honorary doctorates from Southwestern University (1952) and Oklahoma City University. He was chairman of the board of trustees of Oklahoma City University. He was elected a delegate to two jurisdictional conferences (1952, 1956) and five general conferences (1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976). He married Bonnie Faye Pressley in 1935. They had two children. Mrs. Lovern died in 1982. Bishop Lovern died on April 23, 1987, at Harris Hospital in Fort Worth.

United Methodist Reporter, April 24, 1987. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in the Methodist Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 1966).


  • Religion
  • Methodist


  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Norman W. Spellmann, “Lovern, James Chessel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995
November 11, 2020

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