Grambling, James Berry


James Berry Grambling, the eighth child of Mary Rebecca McDonald Grambling and James Franklin Grambling, was born in Ruston, Louisiana, on September 14, 1891, six months after the death of his father. His family was in the contracting business in North Louisiana.
The first of his many trips to Chicago was in 1910. During the next few years, he was employed by different organizations. When he was 17 years of age, he tried out his talents at vaudeville. He organized a minstrel group and put a show on the road entertaining for many civic organizations. He had never led gospel songs, so it was with reluctance that he accepted an invitation from Reverend Douglas to lead a song service for him at a tent meeting in Forney, Texas. The meeting was called to an end on Friday night because there was no response. Little did they know that one young man's heart had been touched and within a few days, James B. Grambling knelt at his bedside and gave his heart to God, a beautiful conversion experience.
He went back to Chicago and studied at the Moody Institute to be an evangelistic song leader. He worked with such men as Homer Rodeheaver, Gipsy Simon Smith and Billy Sunday. He was a member of the Broadway Methodist Church in Chicago when he started his work with the Epworth League.
On March 22, 1918, he was married to Ethel Schlegel who faithfully served with him until her death. They were blessed with two sons: James Berry Grambling, Jr. and Robert F. Grambling.
In addition to the studies at Moody Institute, Brother Grambling attended Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Seashore Divinity School in Mississippi. He was ordained in the Louisiana Methodist Conference in 1926.
During his 40 years of active ministry, he served Bank Street Methodist Church, New Orleans (later changed to Epworth, a church he built); Grand Cane, Stonewall, Keithville Circuit, Hammond, Mer Rouge, Epworth in New Orleans, Bogalusa, Crowley, Jonesboro, Wynn Memorial in Shreveport and Logansport.
Brother Grambling will long be remembered for his work in the Epworth League where he faithfully served in Chicago and Louisiana. This was the beginning of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship. He gave unlimited time and dedication to the summer camps. He served on the Board of Hospitals and Homes for several years. He was instrumental in establishing the Retired Ministers Homes, Inc., and served as President of the Board until 1957. After his retirement in 1960, he continued active as Building and Grounds Chairman until 1969. During his tenure on the Board, one duplex, nine single units and the apartment complex were built.
Brother Grambling left a wealth of information -personal writings, pictures, clippings and letters from which a book should be written. He was indeed a great man. On Friday, June 4, 1982, he graduated to his home in glory. He left a host of friends who were influenced through his life and ministry and Erma and I count ourselves most fortunate to halve been two of them.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference UMC 1983, Page 188 - By James L. Adams

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