Cover photo for Rev. Dr. James E. Henry's Obituary
Rev. Dr. James E. Henry Profile Photo

Rev. Dr. James E. Henry

October 10, 1939 — December 26, 2021

Reverend Dr. James Edward Henry was born on October 10th, 1939, in Nashville, Tennessee to the proud parents of Walter Henry and Hattie Johnson. He began his educational journey at Napier Elementary and Cameron Junior and Senior High Schools. During this time, he perfected his athletic skills at Napier Park playing with friends in the neighborhood. In his love for the game of basketball, he was often noticed for profiling in his formation like the professional basketball players when shooting free-throws. His friends would tease him, referring to him as having a “Professional form”, which was later shortened to “PRO-FORM”….. then Ebonics took over, and the nickname became “Po’ Farm”.

During his time at Cameron High School in Nashville's Southside, he honed his athleticism in football and basketball and excelled tremendously. After graduating from Cameron High, he attended Fisk University on a full athletic scholarship, where he was the Co-Captain and then Captain of the football team. His experience as a Golf Caddy prepped him for being a part of Fisk's Golf team. Rev. Henry graduated from Fisk University in 1961 with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. He began graduate studies at Howard University’s School of Law. During his time matriculating at Howard, Rev. Henry had the opportunity of pleading mute cases before the Supreme Court and meeting the late Robert Frances Kennedy, who was at the time the United States Attorney General.

He relocated to Nashville in 1962 to relieve the financial burden on his family. He sought gainful employment at North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company as a door-to door Insurance Agent. Having a hard work ethic, he also worked part-time as a roofing laborer, specializing in houses.

After a year, Dr. Henry transferred to Murfreesboro, Tennessee where he was able to teach and coach at Holloway High School under the recommendation of his high school and collegiate coach - Coach Eugene Stevenson. This was during a heightened time of racial segregation. During this time, he taught Economics and coached football and basketball as he enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University, where he became the first African American to graduate with a Master's degree from MTSU in 1966.

After four years of teaching at Holloway High, Dr. Henry returned to Nashville in 1966 as the Assistant Coach to his alma mater - Fisk University.

During the period of ending segregation in Nashville and starting racial integration in the 1960s, Rev. Henry integrated management and became the first black supervisor at the E. I. DuPont Chemical Company in Old Hickory, Tennessee. After eighteen dedicated years with DuPont, he accepted his call to the Gospel Ministry. Rev. Henry took early retirement from DuPont and enrolled in the American Baptist College for clergy preparation where he received a THB degree in 1988. Graduating with honors, he became a full time Professor at the historical American Baptist College. Rev. Henry continued his educational pursuit and preparation for Ministry, attending and graduating from the Vanderbilt University’s School of Divinity in 1991. He also received a Doctorate from New Covenant International Bible College in Decatur, Alabama in 2010.

In 1989, Rev. Dr. James E. Henry and Frankie Henry accepted the call to serve as the Senior Pastor, Shepherd and First Lady at Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church. This served as a full-circle-moment because Rev. Henry was baptized at the age of 10 at Mt. Ararat under the Pastorate of Rev. Felix H. New.

Dr. Henry shared his vision for Mt. Ararat growing which resulted in the construction of the new sanctuary and administrative offices and the renovation of the historical Edifice and Fellowship Hall.

Every Homecoming, Dr. Henry would lead an annual Homecoming Parade canvassing the neighborhood in the South Nashville Community. This was an exciting time in the life of the church as bands and other organizations would join this initiative. The entire community got involved! He understood the call on his life and the direction God had deposited in him. Pastor Henry was not ashamed of walking through J.C. Napier community ministering to the residents and encouraging them to give their lives to Christ and make Mt. Ararat their church home.

On April 7, 2002, Dr. Henry saw the vision God had given him of wanting greater for the South Nashville Community. His vision come to fruition with the dedication and first service in the new sanctuary. Mt. Ararat expanded not only in the physical capacity, but also spiritually expanded its ministries. This growth was evident with the addition of the Liturgical Praise Dancers, Dolls, Divas, and Dudes; the Youth Church; Youth, Women’s, Men and Mass Choirs; Mothers and Deacon Boards; and Junior and Senior Ushers to name a few. Dr. Henry made sure there was a place for everyone to serve the Lord at Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church. He believed and conveyed that there was no “Big I’s” and no “little you’s” and everyone was “All On One Accord” [Acts 2:1]. He taught and lived unity, that we were “All travelling up the King’s highway trying to make 100, because 99 and a half just won’t do!”

Dr. Henry retired from his Pastoral assignment at Mt. Ararat on January 7, 2018, after 28 years of faithful servanthood and stellar leadership. With a little more time on his hand, he was able to spend more time with his family. Dr. Henry and First Lady Frankie Henry enjoyed travelling. One of their favorite vacation destinations was Nassau, Bahamas. They also enjoyed visiting other Caribbean Islands, Europe, Rio, Hawaii, England, Paris, France, Holland, Switzerland, Rome, Italy, and many other fascinating destinations.

Anyone who knew Dr. Henry, knew that he enjoyed good conversation and debating - particularly politics and Economics. He would often talk with his son, LaMont and great grandson, Kaleb about sports. He loved talks with his granddaughter, Christian about space - Mars in particular. Dr. Henry was a well- traveled man with an abounding knowledge on a variety of things. After a conversation with Dr. Henry, you were guaranteed to walk away feeling a little bit smarter and encouraged to get involved to make an impact in your community.

Reverend Dr. James E. Henry peacefully departed this earthly realm to be in the Arms of the Lord on Sunday, December 26th 2021.

He was preceded in death by his Father: Walter Henry Sr; Mother: Mrs. Hattie Mae Johnson and Brother: Elvis Henry.

Left to cherish his precious memories are: His High-school sweetheart, Wife of 60 years, and the Love of his life, First Lady Emeritus Frankie Mae Henry; Devoted Son: LaMont (Claudia) Henry; Granddaughter: Christian Lanae Henry; Great-Grandson, Kaleb Levi Lamont Baxter; Aunt: Elizabeth Farmer; Two Brothers: Roderick Henry and Walter Henry Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio; Two Sisters: Nelda (Donald Sr.) Goodgames of Tampa, Florida; Alice (William) McDade of Cincinnati, Ohio; One Brother-In Law: Kenneth (Reba) Keeling; Three Sister In Laws: Minnie Fletcher, Loretta Boyd, Terra Keeling; Goddaughters: Thea Jones; Etana, Eyden and Emiah Johnson, and a host of loving cousins, nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends including the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Family.

Reverend Dr. James Edward Henry was a visionary and had a strong commitment to progress. He possessed a spirit that would not rest until "God's will be done in Southeast Nashville." His prayer remains in our hearts, that God will bless you “Real. Real good!” May his soul rest in Eternal Peace.

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