Rev. Dr. Robert Earl Starghill, Sr., Pastor Emeritus, was born September 27, 1936 in the small coal mining town of Glen Alum, West Virginia to Otis Clayton Starghill, Sr. and Sallie Agnes Calahan King.
As an adolescent, Rev. Dr. Robert Earl Starghill, Sr. mostly lived with his Uncle Eddie “Bert” Starghill and Aunt Moline Starghill. The family moved from Glen Alum to Tacoma, Washington during World War II and then to Chicago, Illinois where Pastor Starghill graduated from Wendell Phillips Academy High School at 16 years of age. The family then moved to Detroit, Michigan where Pastor Starghill began working in the automotive industry. Pastor Starghill was employed at Chrysler Mound Road Engine Plant where he worked for 30 years until his retirement in 1994.
Pastor Starghill gave his life to Christ in 1953 and was baptized at Samaritan Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. He was a faithful worker in the church, serving as Junior Deacon, Deacon, choir member, Sunday School teacher and Superintendent of Sunday School. Pastor Starghill accepted the call from the Lord to preach under the leadership of the late Pastor Square Melvin Moore and was licensed by the late Pastor Bert L. Stevenson in 1971. He was ordained as a Minister of the Gospel on October 14, 1973. At the passing of the late Pastor Burt L. Stevenson in August 1980, the church called Pastor Starghill and he faithfully served as Pastor for 35 years until his retirement on October 24, 2015.
Under Pastor Starghill’s leadership, God blessed Samaritan Missionary Baptist Church to bear much fruit. Leading the church by faith, he moved the church to purchase land located at 8806 Mack Avenue and to eventually build a new sanctuary in 1985 that was paid off in 1991; 4 years ahead of the 10 year mortgage term. Additional properties were purchased which included the entire block across from the church (from Crane to Rohns), the property behind the church (which extended the paved parking lot) and the church’s investment property located at 9360 Schiller Street which was purchased with the vision to provide more affordable housing options in the local community. In 2008, renovations and additions to the old sanctuary were completed. By his continuing to walk by faith, the Lord used Pastor Starghill to build an adjacent structure to the original church at 8806 Mack Avenue. The newly enlarged church then included a 350-seat sanctuary, chapel, classrooms, administration offices, kitchen and a large fellowship hall. In 2009, the property at 8821 Mack Avenue was resurfaced, fenced, lighted and converted to a safer parking area for the church community. More important than the property and building advancements made under Pastor Starghill’s leadership was the manifestation of the vision God gave him to make Samaritan a “Lighthouse on Mark Avenue”.
He constantly preached this vision of meeting both the spiritual and physical needs of the people in the community and compelling them to come to Christ by showing them the love of Christ. He lived his life with a commitment to reach, teach and transform the entire life of the entire person. Pastor Starghill was a man of love and he lived out a message of love by his personal example. He was genuine, personable, and never met a stranger. He was deeply and truly loved by many. The “Lighthouse Concept” became a reality. Samaritan became a church that is an agent for social and spiritual transformation in the community and lives are changed by the Word of God. Pastor Starghill lived by one of his favorite scriptures: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.” Philippians 4:13.
In addition to being Pastor Emeritus of Samaritan Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Starghill was also Moderator Emeritus after serving 10 years with the Pleasant Grove District Baptist Association. He also served as a member of the Executive Board of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, as well as a member of both the Mack Alive Association and the Detroit East Side Churches Coalition. Furthermore, Pastor Starghill was the recipient of a Doctorate of Divinity Degree from the S. J. Williams School of Religion on May 18, 1994.
Pastor Starghill was blessed to have many sons and daughters in the ministry. The following ministers served under Pastor Starghill: Rev. Gregory L. Lindsey, Sr., Rev. John L. Lindsey, Rev. Robert E. Doss, Sr., Min. Lula B. Boss, Rev. Steven A. Hicks, Min. Denise Steed, Rev. Terrence Johnson, Rev. Lance Franklin, Sr., and Rev. Calvin Dixon, Jr. The following three ministers later became pastors: Rev. Patrick O. Lindsey (Pastor of the Greater Bibleway Missionary Baptist Church, Detroit, MI), Rev. Dr. Britt A. Starghill (deceased) (Immediate Past Pastor of the Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church, Camden, NJ), Rev. Dr. John E. Duckworth (Pastor of the Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, Westland, MI) and Rev. Terrence L. Johnson (Pastor of the Second Missionary Baptist Church, Monroe, MI).
Pastor Starghill departed this life on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 5:30 am in Statesboro, Georgia. He was preceded in death by his mother Sallie A. King; his father Deacon Otis C. (Arlene) Starghill, Sr.; his wife, Mother Betty J. Starghill; his eldest son, Reverend Britt A. (Catherine) Starghill; his sister, Shirley Harp; and his granddaughter, Necole S. Boozer.
Pastor Starghill leaves to cherish his memory; six daughters, Chantay Blankenship, Detroit, MI, Janet (Mark) Smith, Indianapolis, IN, Renee Starghill, Woodbridge, VA, Karen Boozer, Statesboro, GA, Dinah (Charles) Barnett, Detroit, MI, April L. Starghill, Detroit, MI; one son, Robert E. (Rhonda) Starghill Jr., Cincinnati, OH; five siblings, Walter (Denise) Starghill, Otis C. (Jewelle) Starghill, Jr., Janice (Alvin) Keel, Gene M. Starghill and Susan (Norman) Lyons all of Detroit, MI; four sisters-in-love, Johnnie (Bishop Willie) Wilder, Bridgeport, CT, Emogene Johnson, Brownstown, MI, Josephine King, Bronx, NY, Mary Houston, Detroit MI, twelve grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, close church family members; and a host of other relatives and friends.
There will be a public viewing for Pastor Starghill at the Swanson Funeral Home, 806 East Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48207 on Friday, April 23, 2021 from 3:00 pm -6:00 pm.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the funeral for Pastor Starghill will be virtual only and live-streamed on Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 11:00 am. Live-stream information will be available at https://www.samaritanmbc.org/
Service is entrusted to Craig R. Tremble Funeral Homes, Inc., Statesboro Chapel, 238 West Main Street, Statesboro GA, 30458 and
Swanson Funeral Home, 806 East Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48207.
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