Henley, John S.


April 30, 1872 - March 10, 1935
Rev. John Steele Henley, son of James Harver and Matilda Clardy Henley, was born in Bedford County, Tenn., April 30, 1872, and entered into rest March 10, 1935, at Jonesboro, La. He was reared on a farm about. six miles north of Shelbyville, Tenn., and he was educated at Shelbyville Institute and at , I College, Decherd, ‘Tenn. He leaves a widow and two children, Mrs. Milan W Barnes of CaJdwell, Kansas, and Haggard M. Henley of Jonesboro, Louisiana.
Brother Henley was reared in a Methodist home and environment and he united with the Church in his early years. His spiritual birthday was August 22, 1890. His was a remarkable conversion, and he commemorated it annually by writing to the man under whose ministry it came, Rev. W. F. Clark. ‘Shortly after his conversion he felt the call to preach. After some years of preparation, followed by teaching school and doing evangelistic work, he joined the Tennessee Conference at the session held at McMinnville, Tenn., October 24-29, 1900.
He served the following charges in the Tennessee Conference:
Sparta Circuit, McMinnville Mission, Green Brier Circuit, New Providence and Bethel Circuit, Williamsport Circuit, Edgar Hill Circuit, District Evangelistic, Mt. Pleasant District, Bethphage and Mt. Vernon, Portland, and Fountain Head Station. Transferring to the Upper South Carolina Conference, he served Williamston Station, and, following that, spent five years In the Southwest Missouri Conference. He next transferred to the Louisiana Conference and served Athens Circuit, Hedge Station, and Jonesboro Station. He was in his fifth year at Jonesboro when the end came.
Brother Henley was greatly beloved wherever he went. He was a fine preacher. His sermons were strong, tender, earnest and evangelical. Hundreds were converted under his ministry. He was great in prayer and would beseech the throne of grace with tears and strong cries until victory came. In social life he was very entertaining. His inimitable wit and humorous stories would provoke gales of laughter. He was a tender and devoted husband and a kind and loving father. It was at his post that he fell as he entered the church for the morning service on March 10, 1935. His death was instantaneous. He sleeps in the Jonesboro cemetery to wait the resurrection, for “the dead In Christ shall arise.”
Brother Henley had arranged with Rev. Robert M. Brown to officiate at his funeral. The following is an extract of the sermon delivered on that occasion, the text being, “Know ye not that a prince and a great man is fallen this day in Israel and we are weak because of it?”

A Prince Has Fallen

John Henley was princely in his loyalty and devotion to his Church and his God. “Just name it ‘Church,’ and that suits me,” was an ex-pression frequently upon his lip.. Beyond his highest joy he prized her heavenly ways; her sweet communion, solemn vows; her hymns of love and praise. He seemed to know and love all the hymns and tunes. I shall never forget hearing him sing at a “retreat,” “When I can read my title clear.” He sang it through and when he finished his face was wet with happy tears and radiant with the spirit of God. He was familiar with the history of his, Church and at home with her great leaders, past and present. He loved her great doctrines, preached them and embodied them. He was loyal to the program of the Church and believed in her policies. I never knew him to sidetrack or soft pedal any part of the program of the Church, and he always sold it to his peo-ple. He was a true Methodist, also, in his spirit of appreciation and co-operation with other denominations. No worthy enterprise ever lacked a champion when he was around.

A Great Man Has Fallen

He Fell

Yes, truly a great man is fallen this day in Israel, and we are weak because of it. Yes, two of Jonesboro’s greatest sons, Rev. J. S. Henley and Judge William Hammond, respectively pastor and superintendent of the Sunday school, lie side by side in new made graves in the churchyard. They were both lovely in their lives and in their deaths they were not divided. And we are weak because of it. How shall we carry on without them? And yet, and yet, are we really weaker? Are we not just weak in faith? It would be strange indeed if these two faithful seed-sowers of the kingdom leave behind them no harvest of workers to enter into and carry on their labors. We shall be greatly surprised if some young Ehishas do not take up the mantles that have fallen from them and carry on the noble work so nobly begun. Surely some young men and women under the spell of their influence will grasp the torch that is fallen from their lifeless hands and hold it aloft that another generation may walk in the light of it and stumble not.

Know ye not that a prince and a great man is fallen? Yes, he fell. he did not lie down and die in his soft bed, while loved ones ministered lovingly to every comfort. No downy pillow was under his head. He fell as he ascended to the pulpit, which was his throne, and ascended to the throne of his Father in Heaven. He fell on the firing line, in the front trenches, with garment girt about him and with the sword in his hand. “Died Abner like a dog?” No, like Abner, he fell at his post of duty on the field of battle. It was eminently fitting that he should go that way. It was as he would have wished it. For some reason he had a perfect horror of superannuation. He was so alive to his finger tips and so interested in everything and everybody. He raised thousands of dollars for the superannuate fund but he never received any of it, nor did he wish to receive it.
“Servant of God, well done;
Rest from thy loved employ,
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master’s joy.”
And We Are Weak Because of It
Yes, a great man is fallen. John Henley was princely because he was first of all a man. You cannot grow princes out of any other timber. He had to be respected as a man. He never forgot it himself and lie never allowed anyone else to forget it. I dare to say that there Is not a person living that doesn’t respect and honor him as a man. He was a man among men. He knew everyone in his community and everyone knew him and respected him. Children and young people adored him. He was at home with every group in or out of the Church.
These words of King David express, as perhaps no others could express, the feelings and convictions of our hearts today. Truly a prince and a great man is fallen. Rev. John Steele Henley was a true prince In that anything little or unworthy of him, or by him, was unthinkable. Somewhere along life’s pathway, before most of us knew him, he met and wrestled all night with the angel of his better self and won, and from that moment until his coronation, like Jacob of old, he lived gloriously and died triumphantly praising Cod and blessing humanity.
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Pages 84-87, 1935, by Robert M. Brown

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