Joe was supervisor of his shift and enthusiastically shared the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the miners. Since Joe worked full-time in the mines and never went to college, he studied at night in order to pass exams to enter Tyndale seminary in Bristol, where he was accepted for ministry training and ordination in the Church of England.
In 1949, Joe married Freda Jones in St. Helens. They lived in St Helens, England, through Joe’s seminary years. During that time, Freda worked as a nurse to support him and their growing family.
Joe’s first job after ordination was as a curate of St. Peters Church, Parr, St Helens. He went from there to serve as curate at St. Mary’s (now demolished) at Bootle near Liverpool. From there he went to Southport, Lancashire, where he was Vicar of St. Simon and St. Jude.
While at seminary, Joe had met the Rev. John Guest. John Guest encouraged Joe to come and work in the ministry in the United States. In 1974, Joe received the call to be rector of Church of the Redeemer in Okmulgee, OK, and served there until 1976.
At that time, his old friend from seminary John Guest was rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Sewickly, PA. The Associate Rector of St. Stephen's was the Rev. John W. Howe. It was there at St. Stephen's that John Howe met Joe Kitts.
In fact, while visiting the U.K. in 1974, John Howe and his wife Karen stayed at Joe and Freda's “Cottage" (built in the side of a hill) in Wales. It was during that visit in the U.K. that John and Karen and John Guest were seeking wisdom and support for what ended up becoming Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA.
John Howe was called in 1976 to be rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, VA, and shortly after he arrived he asked Joe Kitts to join the Truro staff as Assistant Rector for pastoral care and evangelism.
Joe served through the ministries of two rectors (the Rev. Martyn Minns arrived at Truro to be rector in 1991) and an interim during his eighteen years at Truro, retiring back to England in 1994. He and Freda settled in St. Martin’s, Oswestry, England, and to their farmhouse, "Windy Ridge" on Cottage Lane.
They enjoyed their many years together in England, sharing their warm hospitality to all who came to visit. I remember visiting Joe and Freda at their home in England and Joe took me for an unforgettable ride on the historic Snowdon Mountain Railway in Gwynedd, Wales.
In 2008, Freda went home to the Lord. Joe continued to joyfully receive friends and guests, sharing the good news and love of Jesus.
Joe and Freda are survived by their three children, Keith Brainerd (and his wife, Beatrix) Kitts, Gillian Ann (and her husband Mike) Bigg, and Denise Ruth Kitts, as well as eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with one on the way.
The funeral for the Rev. Joe Kitts will be on Tuesday, September 10, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. at St. Martin's Church in St. Martin, Oswestry, England. The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns (former rector of Truro, 1991-2007) will be taking part in the funeral there.
There will also be a memorial service on October 5, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. at Truro Anglican Church (10520 Main Street, Fairfax, VA). The Rt. Rev. John Howe (former rector of Truro, 1975-1989) will be preaching.