Reflections on the Life and Legacy of James Earl Massey
By Carl Stagner
No tribute could ever come close to adequately describing the preacher, the professor, the person of Dr. James Earl Massey. Musician, mentor, author, theologian, friend, husband—Massey lived a life of many roles and with many talents, but his widespread influence across the Movement and beyond is perhaps unparalleled today. Not surprisingly, word of his passing from this life on Sunday, June 24, 2018, spread rapidly across the country and around the world, prompting a mixture of sorrow for our loss, celebration of his homegoing, and gratitude for the profound impact of his life on ours.
Born on January 4, 1930, Massey would ultimately become one of the most-loved and well-respected ministers across all regions and cultures in the Church of God. He proclaimed Christ with conviction and class from the pulpit, from behind the radio microphone, and in the classroom. Among other responsibilities fulfilled, he served as senior pastor of Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, Michigan, from 1954 until 1976, CBH (Christians Broadcasting Hope, then Christian Brotherhood Hour) speaker from 1977 until 1982, and dean of the Anderson School of Theology from 1989 until 1995. The author of eighteen books (some of which are still available from Warner Press) also gave editorial leadership to the widely circulated, cross-denominational magazine Christianity Today. Known for his excellent sermons, this “prince of preachers”—as he was affectionately known—preached or lectured at countless camp meetings and conventions, more than a hundred institutions of higher education, and on four continents.
While his notoriety was great and his accolades numerous, for many in the Church of God, he was a mentor. Approachable and authentic, Massey was available to students, emerging leaders, and budding preachers. His counsel and character set an example for everyone to follow, and his Jesus-centered message cut across the miles, spanned the generations, and unified the body of Christ.
“The Church of God (and many others) mourn the passing of one of our greatest voices, James Earl Massey,” Jim Lyon, general director of Church of God Ministries, reflects. “He walked through this world with exceptional grace, strength, and wisdom. Jesus was his preoccupation, the church was his family, the world was his stage.”
As service arrangements are made, and as more details emerge, this article will be updated and information will be posted right here. Thank you for your continued prayers for his family and friends, and especially for his wife Gwendolyn Inez Kilpatrick-Massey.
The homegoing celebration for Dr. James Earl Massey took place on Saturday, July 7, 2018, at Metropolitan Church of God, 13400 Schaefer Hwy, Detroit, MI 48227. The family hour took place at 9:00 AM and the funeral service was held at 10:00 AM.