'I'm a people's person'; Bedford pastor to celebrate 50 years at the same church

Jubilee celebration honors Rev. Dr. Henry Henderson at Washington Street Baptist

By Irisha Jones - Reporter

BEDFORD, Va.- - One of the oldest churches in Bedford is set to honor its pastor this weekend. The Rev. Dr. Henry Alvin Henderson will celebrate 50 years Washington Street Baptist Church.

He's spent has spent the majority of his life saving souls. Fifty of those years in the pulpit, preaching sermons.

"I really don't feel it. I wonder now where the time has gone," he said 

In 1969, he got word the church needed a minister. He was offered the position and he and his wife left South Carolina for the church with a history going back to 1866. He visited the church three times before officially becoming pastor. 

Watch our full interview with Rev. Dr. Henry Henderson at Washington Street Baptist above

"I like people. I'm a people's person. And I seen it was quite relaxed. It was a lot of young people and had potential for growth," he said. 

Henderson says weddings and baptisms are his most memorable moments as the church leader.  

He baptized his daughter as a child and many other children. He's officiated wedding ceremonies for members and even the children of members once they got older.

Serving the community has also been important. Under his leadership, the church started a free medical clinic and a feeding program called The Shepherd's Table.

"That was a program that feed a lot of low income and homeless person who came into out fellowship hall," he said. 

Overtime, church membership has declined, but the church still standing strong. 

"Some have gone on to be city councilmen. One became a mayor of the city another young man was on the board of supervisors. We have persons who are in the public schools as teachers, law enforcement," he said. 

To celebrate his five decades of service to the church, the community is holding a Golden Jubilee Saturday at the Forest Rec Center from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

"A lot of it will be a surprise to me. I'm glad to be surprised," he said. 

From 27 years old to now 77, Henderson says there's more work he needs to do such as creating an after school program for young people.

"There's no retirement, you just serve," he said. 

Henderson is married and his wife is retired from teaching at Big Island Elementary School for more than 30 years.

Their only daughter passed away two years ago. Henderson says she was a successful doctor. The Henderson's have three grandchildren.

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