In Memoriam in Gratitude for the Life and Service of B.J. Weber

BJWcolorheadshot.jpg

Rev. William John (B.J.) Weber, age 75, passed away on August 2, 2022, which also marked his 42nd wedding

anniversary with his wife Sheila Weber. B.J. lived and worked for the last 43 years in midtown Manhattan, New

York City. B.J. was born October 24, 1946, in Dubuque, Iowa, where he spent his childhood and most of his young

adulthood until age 32. He passed away after a valiant 15-month battle with cancer, surrounded by his wife, his

two children and his grandchildren at a family cottage in the Catskill Mountains.

B.J. called himself “a friend of Jesus,” and was known as a man of deep faith, a leader of men, and lover of souls.

He was renowned for his humor, wit, charm, charity and grace.

After arriving in New York in 1979, B.J. started a street ministry where for five years he served in rescue and

recovery efforts with addicts, prostitutes, teenage runaways and the homeless, while co-pastoring The Lamb’s

mission church in Times Square. There he launched a clinic and feeding program for the homeless, and also

trained leaders in a dozen mainline churches to establish homeless shelters on their premises. This effort answered the public call from Mayor Ed Koch for every church and synagogue in NYC to open up their space with ten beds each night—an idea pitched to the Mayor by Sheila and B.J. when Koch dropped in to the Lamb’s Thanksgiving banquet for the homeless in 1981.

In 1984, B.J. founded the New York Fellowship, an interdenominational ministry providing spiritual direction,

counseling and pastoral care to leaders in the business and professional communities of the New York City area.

From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, B.J. served as Baseball Chapel leader for the World Series Champion New York Yankees. He either co-founded or was instrumental in the founding of more than 25 ministries, including

the East Harlem Little League, Youth Impact, Pregnancy Help, Brooklyn Little League, the Breadwinner’s

Foundation, Love and Respect, Avenue D Men’s Transitional Center, Faithworks, Kids to Camp Program, and more.

He was a co-founder of the Amistad Mission, a clinic and orphanage in Bolivia. He was instrumental on the board of Chicago Hope Academy, a Christian high school for underprivileged inner-city youth. B.J. was an early and ongoing leader with the New Canaan Society, a men’s ministry which now includes some 60 chapters and 25,000 men nationwide.

Athletics was in B.J.’s blood. He especially loved his game of rugby and the camaraderie of his teammates. He

founded and captained the Dubuque Rugby Football Club and the Iowa State University RFC. From 1979 to 1984

he played with the nationally-ranked Manhattan Old Blue RFC. B.J. served as coach for the Columbia University

RFC from 2004 to 2012. He hosted the college players several times a year in his home, always requiring them to

wear coat and tie and expecting the young men to answer profound and probing questions he had slipped under each dinner plate.

Over the course of several decades, B.J. led chapel programs for the NY Giants, NY Jets, NY Mets, as well as at a

Superbowl, an MLB All-Star Game, and a NCAA National Football Championship. He led a Bible study for Jets

players for many years at his home. In 2011, B.J. was a chaplain for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the

third largest sporting event in the world.

B.J. also developed a spiritual support outreach to ambassadors of the United Nations. He befriended many of the ambassadors, visiting them in the hospital, officiating funerals, and caring for their families. He hosted a monthly luncheon to discuss “the teachings of Jesus,” to which attended ambassadors from traditionally Muslim

backgrounds, as well as the U.N. ambassador from Israel.

In the aftermath of the September 11 th terrorist attacks, B.J. provided boots-on-the-ground crisis counseling at

Ground Zero. He continued his ministry to the grieving families of firefighters who were lost that day.

There are countless stories of how B.J.’s investment in the life of one person created a ripple effect in the lives of

others, their families, and entire communities. Those stories can be found in a collection of essays written by the

people he helped, a book on Amazon.com, titled "FELLOWSHIP: Stories of Transformation through Grace and

Spiritual Friendship. B.J. Weber’s 40 Years in New York City."

B.J. Weber was an ordained minister, received a Masters of Divinity from the University of Dubuque Theological

Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, and graduated with a B.S. in psychology at Iowa State University. His road to

seminary began through a dramatic conversion – on a casual visit to buy a loaf of bread – he met a Trappist monk who led him to faith in Christ. This turning point compelled him to walk away from his 1960s radical lifestyle and communist ideology, instead surrendering to a life in Christ. From 1973 to 1979, he was invited to live under the care and discipleship of the monks and nuns at the New Melleray Trappist Monastery and the Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey near Dubuque, Iowa. Those unique friendships B.J. shared with cloistered monks and nuns were closely maintained and cherished for the next 48 years of his life.

 

B.J. is survived by his wife of 42 years, Sheila Meeder Weber, who had a career in journalism and nonprofit

communications. In addition to raising their son and daughter, she assisted B.J. in managing of the New York

Fellowship. Together they ran a hospitality house in midtown Manhattan, which has served and hosted thousands of visitors from around the world. The dinner gatherings and Bible study groups have been legend, as lifelong friendships have led to the growth of even larger national ministries from the multiplied effect of B.J.’s gregarious leadership. 

B.J. is survived by their son Maxwell Andrew Weber (Lauren) and their daughter Rachel Grace Weber Nehme

(John) and 7 grandchildren Bo, Lita, and Otelia (Tilly) Weber, and Meira, J.J. William

(Liam), and Philip Nehme. B.J. is also survived by his siblings, Sharon Andresen, Kim Herrig, and Mike Weber, and

many loving nieces and nephews. His parents, Virginia Varner Weber and William Bernard Weber, predeceased

him.

B.J. was the recipient of the following awards for his leadership:

 

  • The Herbert E. Manning, Jr. Distinctive Service Award, 2010, from University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.

  • 2004 Charles P. Stetson, Jr. Leadership Award from the King's College, NYC. 

  • 2003 Bread Winners Foundation Award, for B.J's efforts to spearhead financial assistance to widows and their children who were unexpectedly and tragically left financially divested upon the untimely loss of a husband/father.

  • Professional Sports Chaplain: In one year alone, B.J. was the chaplain for Super Bowl XX (1986), the NCAA 1986 National Football Championships, and the 1986 National Baseball League All Star Game.  He served for more than a decade as the chaplain to the NY Yankees during their most World Series winning years.  He also served as chaplain for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the third largest international sporting event in the world.

  • The Bowery Mission Leadership Award for helping to launch in 1993 the Avenue D Men's Transitional Center, the first faith-based government funded homeless men's shelter in the nation.
     

  • Isaiah 40:31 Statue and Citation from West Point cadets and officers at the NCS Annual Retreat 2008 
     

  • Athletes and Business for Kids Award, for exceptional leadership to rally men to action in an anti-pornography campaign 
     

  • Founding advisory board member of the Dove Award, given to films for excellence in family values

 

B.J. Weber was a best friend to many. He was readily available to provide spiritual wisdom and encouragement toanyone who was in need. It was common for those around him to hear maxims such as “your ego is not your amigo.” But “friendship with Jesus and friendship with each other” is the one that most exemplified his life and thelegacy of loving relationships he leaves behind. 
 

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, September 10, 2022, at 2 p.m. at St. George’s Church, 7 Rutherford Place, near E. 16th Street between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan, New York City. There will be a reception following from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on church premises. All are welcome but an RSVP is requested for preparation and planning. Kindly RSVP if you can attend at https://www.calvarystgeorges.org/webermemorial. 

 

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider making a donation to the Amistad Mission, Chicago Hope Academy, or the New York Fellowship in honor of B.J. Weber.