Longtime Whitehaven pastor Rev. Lester Basken dies at 90


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — People in the Whitehaven community are mourning the loss of a popular pastor.  

Rev. Lester Basken headed the Middle Baptist Church for 44 years until his retirement in 2015. He created many programs for children in the neighborhood.

Basken started a version of the summer jobs program with the church paying students to work at different locations. There was computer lab, after school basketball and more.

His congregation grew from 250 people to more than 4,000 when he retired.

Basken also counseled inmates at the jail.

Mayor Jim Strickland posted about Basken on Facebook, saying:

“He was always welcoming and gracious. He loved people, he served others in his congregation and the youth of Memphis with his joyful, uplifting personality.”

Basken was 90 years old.

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