By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
HENDERSONVILLE — Former Southern Baptist Convention President Jim Henry is 80 years old and his brother, Joe, is 77. But rest assured, when their 100-year-old mother, Katherine Henry, speaks, they still listen.
And, they each call her at least once a day. “She won’t let us get off the phone,” Jim laughed.
The Henrys held a birthday celebration dinner for their mother a few days after her birthday with about 75 family members and friends present.
Mrs. Henry, who served for many years as a church secretary at several Nashville-area churches, is proud of the men her boys became.
“The Lord has blessed me all of my life,” she affirmed. “I never thought I’d live to be 100 and still have my sons right behind me. I don’t deserve how they have looked after me,” she said.
That may be the only statement she makes that they would dare disagree with. The Henry boys are quick to credit their mother, who turned 100 on April 3, for their spiritual training and background.
“She is one of a kind,” said Joe Henry. “She led us to Christ,” he said.
“Our spiritual foundation is because of this lady,” added his brother Jim, former pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church, Nashville, and First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla.
“She saw to it that we went to church and to Training Union and memorized Scripture. She set the spiritual foundation for us early in life,” he affirmed.
Jim credited his mother for teaching the boys to tithe. They would have part-time jobs to earn money. “She kept a coffee cup handy and if we earned $2, we put 20 cents into the cup,” he said. “That taught us an important principle early in life.”
Another principle she instilled in her sons was a strong work ethic, both boys agreed. She would work all day, come home and fix dinner, and then do more church work before she would go to bed, Jim said. “We learned to work because we watched her.”
Even after she “retired,” she would continue to work, Joe said. He noted his mother worked in a gift shop at Opryland Hotel until she was nearly 90 and the only reason she quit was she couldn’t see to drive at night any more. “She was a good employee. They loved her,” said Joe, a member of Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville.
Discipline was practiced in the Henry household, the brothers added. “She made us pick out our own switches and if they weren’t big enough, she sent us back for another one,” they laughed.
Perhaps the most important thing, however, that she did for her boys was that she prayed for us, they agreed. “That’s a big thing to know your mother prays for you,” Jim said.
Mrs. Henry was a member of several local churches over the years, including Two Rivers Baptist Church, but she and her husband did not join the church until after Jim moved to Orlando.
“She wasn’t sure she liked the pastor,” Jim joked.
Mrs. Henry is currently a member of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, which is near her retirement home. The Henrys are grateful for how First Baptist has cared for their mother. “They have been so good to her,” Jim said, adding that the church has cared for widows according to Scripture. Mrs. Henry’s husband died in 1994.
Despite her age, Mrs. Henry is relatively healthy. She does not take any medicine regularly and tries to walk about a mile a day using her walker. “The Lord has blessed me with not being sick,” she affirmed.
Joe noted that his mother was hit by a car when she was 93 years old but didn’t break a bone. “It was amazing,” he said.
Mrs. Henry simply gives all the glory to God. “I can’t get over what the Lord has done for me.”