Arkansas Conference President, 1888-1889
His Early Years
Elder James Power Henderson was born in Morgan County, Ohio, on August 27, 1843. James served in the Union during the Civil War from 1862 to 1865, from the ages of eighteen to twenty-one, becoming a Corporal. During those three years he had many narrow escapes. In 1868, at the age of twenty-four, he married Charlotte Dunlap. Three children were born to them — Ada, who died at one-year-old, William Glenn, who died at the age of twenty, and Hervey Andrew, who lived to be eighty-five. Hervey became the principal of the schools in Goodland, Illinois.
accepting the Adventist Message
James P. Henderson accepted the truths of the third angel’s message six years after his marriage, and gave himself to the ministry. In a letter to the Review in February 1874 James wrote, “There are three of us in this village, a brother, his wife, and myself, endeavoring to keep all God’s commandments. We improve every Sabbath by meeting twice, evening and morning, for prayer and the study of God’s word.” He went on to say, “[A] few months have passed since I took my stand on present truth, and not a moment must be lost in the work before me” (Review, 1874). Less than two years after accepting the Adventist message, James P. Henderson was one of the first few to contribute $100 to help purchase a power press, engine, and printing material for use on the Pacific Coast (Review, 1875).
Years of Ministry
Elder Henderson worked hard to spread the Adventist message, ordering numerous books, pamphlets, and tracts to give to friends and neighbors, leading out in meetings with others who were studying their Bibles, and later, advocating for the repeal of Sunday laws, holding meetings, and serving in leadership positions of the church. He was successful in leading many precious souls throughout Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa to the truth as a result of his earnest labor. Elder Henderson was sent from Indiana to Arkansas in 1888. He held his first meeting in Springdale on February 4 and 5. The purpose was to become acquainted and learn the needs of this new territory. The announcement in the Review asked all churches to send a representative to the meeting, and for the scattered believers throughout the state to write and let him know whether he would be able to hold meetings in their area. The General Conference stated, “You will be pleased to know that a minister is sent to devote his entire time to the work in your own State” (Jones, 1888).
First Arkansas Conference President
Arkansas had become part of the Missouri Conference in 1885 and when the Arkansas Conference was organized May 21, 1888, the Missouri Conference appointed Elder James P. Henderson as the first president of the conference (Bulletin, 1888). At the first annual session of the Arkansas Conference in August 1889 Elder Henderson was reelected as the conference president (Martin, 1889). However, at the October 1889 General Conference session, Elder J. G. Wood was asked to go to Arkansas and be the president of the conference (Review, 1889) and Elder Henderson was sent to the Nebraska conference. In 1890 Elder Henderson was working in the Iowa conference. In the summer of 1895 he was sent to the Illinois Conference to labor. Throughout his years of ministry, Elder Henderson wrote numerous articles for the Review, some telling about the work he was doing, some being of a sermonette nature, and he also wrote poetry. Below is one of his poems printed in 1894.
THE LOVE OF CHRIST
BY ELDER J. P. HENDERSON
THE love of Christ constraineth me,
It keeps me from the wrong;
From sin’s dread hour it sets me free,—
It daily is my song.
To walk with Christ I must in love
Yield to his righteous will;
My steps and ways he’ll then approve;
My heart with joy he’ll fill.
I must in love remember well
In him to e’er abide,
And always act in ways to tell
Of Jesus by my side.
I must in love to Christ my Lord
Yield all, and evermore ;
Then he will guide me by his word
Safe to the brighter shore (Review, 1894).
His Final Days
In February 1902 Elder Henderson was visiting the McConnell’s in Springfield, Illinois, when he contracted a severe cold, which resulted in congestion of the lungs. His wife was sent for and reached his bedside about three hours before his death. Elder Henderson died on February 21, 1902, at the age of fifty-eight. He was conscious to the last and his end was peaceful. He died without fear and apparently without pain (Bliss, 1902). His funeral services were held in Goodland, Indiana, where the Henderson’s son, Hervey, still lived and he was buried in the Goodland Cemetery (Grave, 2015).
(1875, Jan. 21). Review and Herald, p. 8.
(1888, Oct. 19). General Conference Daily Bulletin, p. 1.
(1889, Nov. 5). Review and Herald, p. 697.
Ancestry Family Trees. (2010, May 23). James Power Henderson. Retrieved from ancestry.com.
Bliss, C. H. (1902, Mar. 11). Review and Herald, p. 158.
Find a Grave. (2015, Jul. 12). Corp James P Henderson. Retrieved from findagrave.com.
Henderson, J. P. (1874, Feb. 3). Review and Herald, p. 62.
Ibid. (1894, Mar. 26). p. 330.
Jones, Dan T. (1888, Jan. 10). Ibid., p. 30.
Martin, W. F. (1889, Oct. 1). Ibid., p. 619.