http://www.abpnews.com/www/1445.article.print Pastor who lost job for convictions gives $250,000 to help ministers By Nathan Taylor and Hannah Lodwick Published: October 20, 2006 RICHMOND, Va. (ABP) -- At 88 years old, Henry Langford has enjoyed a life of diverse occupations -- rural pastor, substance abuse counselor and tree farmer. He may be best remembered, however, as a Baptist preacher who spoke against racism in the South. He lost his job, and his career as a minister, because of it. But Langford and his wife, Florence, refused to let that rejection embitter them. Instead, they turned their struggle into something good for other pastors. The Richmond couple recently gave $250,000 to remodel two apartments at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond to house ministers on sabbatical leave. The gift didn’t come without sacrifice. The couple lived without his income for awhile after Langford wrote an article in a Virginia newspaper supporting Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said school segregation was unconstitutional. Soon after the article appeared, Langford was forced to resign from his church in southern Virginia. As a Southern Baptist minister who was ostracized for supporting desegregation, Langford found it impossible to get a job with another church. “My friends tell me that my ministry can be summarized by three Cs -- conflict, controversy and courage,” Langford said. “I’ve had a full ministry but a turbulent ministry speaking out about injustice.” Though painful, that struggle against racism allowed Langford to discover another passion -- preventing substance abuse. Langford spent 21 years with the Alcohol and Drug Education Council of Virginia Churches -- eight as associate director and 13 as executive director. Throughout his time on the council, Langford continued to notice other ministers living with difficulties that sometimes accompany ministry, like frustration and loneliness. Surrounded by weary pastors, Langford said he developed a compassion for ministers who need special help. In his opinion, the seminary is the ideal place to help those ministers, especially because Langford wanted to form a long-term base of support. “I’ve never been ‘burned out,’ but I’ve been ‘burned up’ from confronting injustice and exploitation in the world,” he said. “Ministers deal with the injustices around them. For me, it was the race issue. That’s why Florence and I wanted to help ministers in trouble. The seminary is the ideal place to do it, to give a base for this support for the long term.” So how can a modest couple in Baptist ministry afford to give such a large amount of money? Langford said they simply worked hard and saved what they had. An avocation of tree farming provided enough funds for the frugal duo to give from their surplus. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter recognized the Langfords for being among the nation’s top tree farmers. “We did it on a shoestring budget,” Langford said. “I give the glory to God and the credit to my wife.” The Langfords’ gift will provide two apartments at the seminary for ministers seeking sabbatical leave. Each apartment will be a key component of the sabbatical leave program in the seminary’s School of Christian Ministry. “The generosity and stewardship of Henry and Florence Langford is an amazing story,” Tom Graves, the seminary's president, said. “Their kind of sacrificial giving, out of the careful savings of a couple who’ve spent years in ministry, is astounding.” Langford said BTSR is a good fit for the donation. He wanted to “put the money where the need is.” The seminary gets no Southern Baptist Convention mission money, he noted. “It’s got to be supported. I go to that passage, ‘Let us work for the good of all, especially for those of the household of faith.’” Founded in 1989, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond has 300 students and more than 500 alumni. The Langfords' donation is the latest major gift to the school’s Building Our Future ... Together campaign, set to raise $19 million for building and renovation work on campus.