About Dr. Jim Lavender
Jim Lavender has been entertaining and speaking to audiences since he was 18 years old. Born in the Luxapalila Swamp country of Mississippi, his parents owned a wholesale candy business and his uncle and grandfather had feed and farm stores plus operating the Fairgrounds. His early years accompanying his uncle to the Fairgrounds fostered a love for animals that has grown over the years.
He would sit for hours as a youngster talking to the circus animals appearing at the Fairgrounds while bringing home orphaned wild animals to take care of as well. This love for animals, nurtured by the tireless efforts of his first grade teacher who helped him overcome learning disabilities by teaching him phonics coupled with the use of live animal “visual aids” has followed Jim into adulthood and led him to careers in ringmastering the circus, and training bears, leopards, lions, tigers, horses, zebras, and camels.
Jim’s life changed when he was recruited to play the role of Lil Abner for Dogpatch USA, Inc./Capp Enterprises, for the legendary cartoon artist, Al Capp, whose Lil Abner comic strip was a national hit for the United Feature Syndicate. Nearing the end of a career as Lil Abner, and several other entertainment ventures, Jim received a call to the ministry and became a United Methodist pastor where he served as founding pastor of a successful suburban church for 33 years. Simultaneous with leading a thriving church, Jim and Avis Lavender created and facilitated a unique ministry to children utilizing living adopted animals from entertainment to reach kids through Christian object lessons. In 28 years this outreach touched almost two million children.
Jim Lavender’s storybook life is heart-warming and hilarious. Today, Jim is a professional storyteller, motivational and keynote speaker. Jim and his wife, Avis, live on their Bear Creek Hollow Farm in the low hills of Central Virginia. After rescuing and providing life- saving veterinary procedures for needy animals, including correction of birth defects in some cases, the Lavenders have placed all of their endangered animals in lifetime certified sanctuaries.
Having overcome difficulties in school and failing his first year in college, Jim now holds degrees from Mississippi State University, Duke University, and St. Mary’s Seminary and University. He has additionally studied marketing through the Executive Development Program of The College of William and Mary and The Disney Institute.
Jim Lavender is in demand as a preacher, speaker, and entertainer. He travels nationwide and has published 3 volumes of stories in CD format and a video of his fireside telling of The Christmas Story.