Cooper: Dr. Bill Henry becomes pastor of Calvary Bible Church

Cooper: Dr. Bill Henry becomes pastor of Calvary Bible Church

March 17th, 2012 in Life Entertainment

Last month, 37 years to the day he first set foot there, Dr. Bill Henry became pastor of Calvary Bible Church.

In between, the Chattanooga native had been -- among other things -- the principal of three schools, the chief operating officer for an international ministry, pastor of two churches, a college instructor and a soldier in Desert Storm.

When Henry got the call from John Lanham, the church's founder and pastor emeritus, he wasn't ready to jump.

"I said, 'The Lord's going to have to show me a path,'" he said.

Henry said he also didn't want to leave the small flock at Faith Bible Church, which he and wife Jan had started and led since 1987. In addition, there was the consideration of leaving his job as account executive at XMC of East Tennessee for full-time ministry.

By the next day, he said, the Lord "had shown us a path in every direction."

When Henry walked into Calvary Bible Church as a new Christian for the first time in 1975, Jan had been there ahead of him. She attended as a teenager, following Jack and Kay Arthur, who were members there then and had established an independent teen Bible study that eventually grew into Precept Ministries International.

The couple were married there later that year and remained active members there for another decade.

Henry, who'd already been a spiritual leader as headmaster of Brainerd Baptist School, was ordained at Calvary Bible Church in 1985 and was called as pastor of Trinity Bible Methodist Church in 1986.

His seminary study came at the feet of Lanham, whose preaching and teaching, he said, were unparalleled, and from Kay Arthur, whose inductive Bible study method changed the way he approached Bible study.

A year after going to Trinity Bible Methodist, the Henrys left to begin Faith Bible Church. They were still there 25 years later when Lanham, who'd been pastor until 1995, called and asked him "to be the man there."

He wasn't looking, having just turned 64, for another church.

"But it's funny [how God's call] comes quickly and out of left field," Henry said.

His church members, in turn, fully endorsed a merger with Calvary Baptist, on which he had patterned Faith Baptist, he said.

Those members included his father, Dr. Jim Henry, the former Chattanooga superintendent of schools who was saluted by members at Calvary Baptist last Sunday after turning 90.

His mother, Nancy, died three years ago.

"They were very supportive all these years," Jan Henry said of her in-laws. "That's been [Bill's] greatest job, ministering to our kids and our family."

Henry said it is his desire now to fulfill the call for revival he said God has put on his heart. To do so, he said, it will be his job to assist the church's 50-plus members in praying, obeying God, using their spiritual gifts and studying the Bible.

Beyond Calvary Bible, he said, he will "not [be] trying to woo from other churches" but to look for people "who never knew Christ."

"Where we're headed at Calvary Bible," Henry said, "is laying the foundation of prayer and training to start what we hope is great revival in this church and other churches -- a great awakening in Chattanooga."