It is with great sadness, and rejoicing, that we announce that on February 1, 2023, at the age of 88, Reverend Thomas L. Lilly went home to be with His Lord and Savior. Psalms 116:15 states, “Precious in the sight of the LORD GrIs the death of His saints.” The Apostle Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” and “it is better by far to die and be with Christ.” Our loving husband and father is now safely home with Jesus where joy is the air he breathes. As Psalm 16:11 puts it, “In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Our loving husband and father has fought the good fight; he has finished the race; and he has kept the faith.
Reverend Lilly was born on August 23, 1934 in True, West Virginia to Tanner David Lilly and Virginia Rae Bowling-Lilly. On June 27, 1953, he married Loretta June Meadows in Detroit, Michigan. Together, they raised four children, Teresa, Mark, Pam and Mike.
In 1955, Reverend Lilly accepted Jesus as his Savior; one year later, the Lord called him into the pastorate. Mr. Lilly left his position at General Motors Company in Detroit, Michigan and while he attended William Tyndall College in Detroit, Michigan to receive a degree in Pastoral Ministry, he planted and pastored the Pontiac FWB Church of Pontiac, Michigan. Reverend Lilly had a passion for evangelism and church planting; and under his leadership, the Pontiac church thrived with many souls being led to Jesus Christ.
After pastoring the Pontiac church for 11 years, in 1967 Reverend Lilly accepted the call as Pastor to the congregants of West Calvary Church in Smithfield, North Carolina where he pastored for the next eight and a half years. During his tenure at West Calvary Church, Reverend Lilly developed a passion for assisting churches with the design, development and financing of church facilities. It was at that time that he started two companies to assist churches in their growth endeavors, Church Planning & Development and Professional Church Bond Services.
Reverend Lilly had a passion for mentoring young pastors; and under his tenure as a pastor, six young men were called into full time ministry. These young men have faithfully gone on to shepherd their own flocks and lead many souls to Christ. In 1976, Reverend Lilly accepted the call as Pastor to the congregants of Five Points FWB Church located in Pine Town, North Carolina. Four years later in 1981, Reverend Lilly accepted the position of North Carolina State Promotional Director for the North Carolina Association of Free Will Baptists where he served for the next sixteen years until his retirement. Prior to his retirement, Reverend Lilly established Livanda Development Group, a real estate development company. Throughout Reverend Lilly’s retirement years, he continued to use his pastoral experience to serve as an interim pastor to many struggling churches, assisting them with church revitalization. Both Reverend Lilly and his wife, Loretta, are dearly loved by so many people! If one verse of scripture could describe our beloved husband and father, it would be Acts 11:24, “For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.”
Reverend Lilly is survived by his wife, Loretta J. Meadows-Lilly; his three children, Teresa Lilly Burgess (spouse, Duke Burgess) Stanley Mark Lilly (spouse Elaine Baker Lilly), and Pamela Lilly Martin (spouse, Dick Martin). Reverend Lilly’s youngest son, Mike, predeceased him in 2,000. Reverend Lilly is also survived by 8 grandchildren, Amber Burgess, Lindsey Burgess-Dillon, Blake Martin, Lacey Martin-Jhamb, Abbey Martin-Blake, Ashley Lilly-Young, Tanner Lilly, and Stan Lilly; and he is survived by 9 great grandchildren, Mary-Katelyn Burgess-Bowker, Alexis Burgess, Revin Dillon, Cade Freeman, Cruiz Freeman, Cam Freeman, Beau Blake, Kendall Young, and Karsen Young. He is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews. Reverend Lilly is predeceased by his parents, Tanner David Lilly and Virginia Rae Lilly, and his three siblings, Arnold Franklin Lilly, David Tanner Lilly, Mary Garnet Lilly-Stanley, and Leonard Ray Lilly.
Reverend Lilly’s Celebration of Life will take place at Belvoir Free Will Baptist Church, located at 3695 North Carolina Highway 33 West, Greenville, North Carolina on Thursday, February 9, 2023.
The family will receive friends and acquaintances beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Belvoir Free Will Baptist Church.
The Celebration of Life service will immediately follow visitation at 2:30 p.m.
The graveside service will be held at Pinewood Cemetery, 4150 East 10th Street, Greenville.
Flowers may be sent to Wilkerson Funeral Home, 2100 East Fifth Street, Greenville, North Carolina 27858.