Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 3, 2013

Pastor’s life a series of faithful connections

VALDOSTA — Everything seems connected in Leon Henderson’s life.

His high school sweetheart has been his wife for nearly 50 years. His lifelong love of music has been intertwined with the faith instilled within him by his parents. From a one-time custodian to pastor to now an associate pastor, Henderson has developed lasting relationships with black and white churches throughout Valdosta and Lowndes County.

Yet, even with these rich connections, Henderson was surprised by one recent development.

It happened while performing in a church in California. A performance that led to his recently released third CD, “Lord Do It: Live in California,” a recording which features his performance of the title song.

Longtime friend Pastor Roger Thomas asked Henderson to sing at the Friendly Temple Church of God in Christ, Victorville, Calif. Henderson was traveling in California. He’s known the Friendly Temple pastor since Thomas lived in Valdosta.

Henderson describes Thomas as being a brother in the Lord. Though Thomas is younger, Henderson considers him a spiritual guru. And always, always a friend.

While singing, Henderson had no idea that his performance was being recorded, that the recording would be his follow-up to past albums, “O Holy Night” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”

Yet, even more so, though both men had been friends for many years as adults, neither Henderson nor Thomas realized they had grown up one door apart from one another on Holliday Street. Neither one realized that, though different years, they shared the same birth date.

In telling it, Henderson is stunned by this recent revelation. Already close, discovering this new connection deepened their friendship.

And Leon Henderson is a man of deep relationships.

Born the fourth of T.J. and Ida Mae Henderson’s nine children, Leon came of age in a loving home in Hudson Dockett. “I was raised up with a good family,” he says.

As a teenager, Leon met Lavonia. They fell in love. By the age of 17, Leon married Lavonia. Their love defied the odds of the people who speculated two people marrying so young would not last long. They are approaching their 49th wedding anniversary.   

Even during an afternoon interview, having seen her before setting out on their day that morning, and later enjoying a noon lunch together, Leon Henderson says whenever he is not with Lavonia, he misses her. “I just left lunch with her,” he says with a smile, “and I miss her now.”

Together, they have built a family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Though no longer pastoring full time, Henderson is still an associate pastor with Evangel Temple.

He uses his history, his experiences, and the example of his life to testify to young men, to hopefully influence them to stay or return to the path.

“I try to get them to see how God has brought me forward,” Henderson says. He tries getting young men to look to God but to also look within, to find the talents they have been given.

“If you have only one, one talent,” Henderson says, “find it, use it. ... Little becomes much if you place it in God’s hands.”

He recalls as a youth being inspired by the music of gospel great James Cleveland. He would listen to Cleveland’s recordings for hours. “I could listen to ‘Peace Be Still’ for 24 hours,” Henderson says. He would listen and sing along.

As an adult, Henderson met Cleveland in Albany. They met before the show, but matters delayed the show, delayed Cleveland from taking the stage. With the crowd tiring of the wait, Henderson approached the promoters. They allowed Henderson to take the stage where he performed a James Cleveland song. Soon, Cleveland entered the stage. For a moment, Henderson sang with Cleveland then Henderson left the stage to take his seat.

Yet, the influence of Cleveland has stayed with Henderson. Listeners can hear that influence as well as Henderson’s individual musical spark as he sings Cleveland’s song “Lord Do It,” on the new CD.

Finding more opportunities to sing gospel, Henderson relates the story of Abraham.

“God promised Abraham he was going to have a son,” Henderson says, “but it looked to Abraham like the day would never come. Like Abraham, with my singing, I thought my day would never come, but you have to keep that faith.”

Leon Henderson’s ‘Lord Do It: Live from California’ is available for $5, and Henderson is available for performances by calling (229) 242-0033.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • City: Most overflows stopped

    The City of Valdosta reported Wednesday evening that all manhole overflows resulting from Tuesday’s heavy rains had stopped, with the exception of two.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140416-gov_deal002.jpg Signed into law

    Gov. Nathan Deal went on a signing tour Wednesday across Georgia, flying into the Valdosta Regional Airport to sign three bills into law.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 2 charged in N.C. kidnapping

    Two more people were charged in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, bringing the number to at least eight people who authorities say were involved in the elaborate plot.

    April 17, 2014

  • VSU opens spring senior art show Saturday

    Several graduating art seniors will present their show this weekend at Valdosta State University.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • vsuopera1dido.jpg Operatic Conclusion

    When the curtain lowers this weekend on Valdosta State University Opera’s performance of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” it will not only mark the end of the music group’s season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘If I Were Mayor’ contest essays

    If I were mayor, I would do all that I possibly can to make the city of Valdosta marvelous, but I cannot do it on my own. Some things in Valdosta I feel it is necessary to focus on would be our literacy rate, unemployment rate, crime history, and our environment.

    April 16, 2014

  • APTOPIX Boston Marath_Stew.jpg Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-valdostaboe001 copy.jpg Valdosta Board of Education reviews finances

    Valdosta City Schools Board of Education celebrated many successes Monday night, discussed budget information and heard an announcement of intent from a hopeful charter school.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • dancing with the stars copy.jpg Dancing with Valdosta Stars raises scholarship money

    Valdosta State University Music and Theatre & Dance’s Third Annual Dancing with the Stars of Valdosta presented a fine dance show this past weekend.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results