Photograph from Patrick Smith

Passing It On: A look into the ministry of the Columbia Union’s longest serving pastor—and where Henry Wright goes from here

Pastory Henry Wright | Photograph by Patrick Smith

Pastory Henry Wright | Photograph by Patrick Smith

A look into the ministry of the Columbia Union’s longest serving pastor—and where Henry Wright goes from here

Passing It On

by Benjamin J. Baker

The packed church waits in anticipation, sensing what is coming. The tall, stately man sits on one of the steps leading up to the pulpit. “I’ve pastored this church for 20 years and six months,” he says in a rich, baritone voice. “June will mark my 50th year in the ministry.” Since turning 70, he has felt the Lord impressing him to move on. He reminisces with pride on his years with them. Then in a charged voice he declares, “I say before you and God: I have done my job here.”

The congregation, silent thus far, breaks into applause, standing as one to its feet. At this, the stern man’s eyes begin to water, his stoic demeanor breaking. After the people return to their seats, the man, now composed, declares, “The next leader will take you higher and further. This church has not yet reached its potential.”

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                     Click here to read about the Wright’s love story
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“All I can say is I love you,” Pastor Henry Wright says as he rises from the steps of Potomac Conference’s Community Praise Center (CPC) in Alexandria, Va.

A Grounded Faith

Henry Monroe Wright was born to William and Zoe Wright on February 3, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although he entered the world amidst World War II, Wright grew up in a world far removed from the mayhem. When he was 6, his grandfather insisted the end was near so the family must live away from the cities. Germantown, a tiny community in Southwest Ohio, fit the bill.

Carol Wright | Photograph by Richard Gordon

Carol Wright | Photograph by Richard Gordon

“Growing up in that little farming community shaped me,” Wright says. “It was rural, it was family, it was Adventist and it was pure.” This early atmosphere grounded Wright in the Seventh-day Adventist faith. “Grandma taught me the Bible at her knee and, at age 10, I could explain the 2,300-day prophecy without notes,” he says.

At 18, Wright headed south to Oakwood University (then a college) in Huntsville, Ala., where he blossomed. A natural leader, he became freshman class president. Yet, he was still undecided about what he wanted to do with his life. It was only after pulling a youthful stunt and being expelled for two weeks that Wright recognized God’s call on his life. “I told the Lord, ‘I’ve run from You, now I’m saying yes to You,’” he remembers.

Oakwood is also where he met his lifelong companion, Carol Lindsey.