Pastor who lost job for convictions gives $250,000 to help ministers

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Oct 20, 2006.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    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.
     
  2. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    Thanks for that GB. Having had an active role in the Civil Rights Movement in 1960, I truly appreciate good stories around desegregation. I spent tree days in an Alabama jail for walking down the street with a black man and woman. Thank God civil rights workers so jailed were pardoned by the President.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  3. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    Pastor who lost job for GOSPEL!

    Pastor who lost job for GOSPEL!

    Sounds better . . . I thought he did hard time . . .
     
  4. LeBuick

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    Interesting to hear, I didn't know this about you. I was born in 62 and grew up in Denver. I remember more of the Vietnam heartburn than the Civil rights movement. The country was sick and needed it's citizens to stand up and do what was right and not what was popular. I thank you for that sacrifice Jim and Rev Langford.

    The country is agains sick this time with immigration and homosexuality. Being a country based on freedom yet made of a melting pot of races, this could be expected. I spoke today at a Womens luncheon and from my heart I believe we must hate the sin but love the sinner. This immigration thing is tearing me apart but I know God will hear our cry and answer our prayers.
     
  5. gb93433

    gb93433
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    It seems that the older I get, most things that I once thought important really matter little. There is only one thing which really lasts for eternity. All the rest is fluff.

    Yesterday I was talking with some people and we were talking about the war in Iraq compared to the time of mankind since God created them. That war is like a pin head in time. Yet, so often we get caught up in carving out our own territory and importance.

    .
     
  6. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    In 1960, we were just encouraging Blacks to register for the vote. It was a difficult thing just to encourage them to register. Then when they got there they were asked to answer a question. A White man was asked who is the current mayor of this city? The Black man was asked who was the wife of the 3rd President of the USA?

    The actual marches started after I left. I was only there for two months.

    Remember, I am also an immigrant from the UK. I don't see a problem with immigration, per se, but with the administration of it,,or lack thereof.

    We have an immigration problem in Canada as well. Political correctness is as wrong as was segregation, and we are tending to bend over backwards to let some nations in and making it difficult for Englishmen, the Mother country.

    Every country in the world has its own internal problems. We like to think we are unique, but we are not.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. LeBuick

    LeBuick
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    Sorry, I left that thought incomplete as usual. You are correct, it is not the people it is the administration. How do we create a process to know who is coming into the country. Now I know of people who get concerned with the Immigrant strain on social programs. I actually have mixed feelings on that subject.

    As homosexuality become an accepted lifestyle, I can't help but cry and shake my head. The direction we are heading in is sad and I see no strong leaders, either religous or political comming forth with a solution.
     
  8. gb93433

    gb93433
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    I just do not see it as any different than what Romans 1 and Genesis addresses. It is an issue as old as mankind.
     

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