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GBC Ethics and Public Affairs pioneer J. Emmett Henderson dies


Joseph Emmett Henderson, 85, retired Georgia Baptist pastor and founding director of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Public Affairs department, died Feb. 19. A native of Georgia and a World War II veteran, Henderson was married to the former Margaret Mann for 67 years.

Emmett Henderson

During World War II he served in the Philippines in the U.S. Navy. He later graduated from the University of Georgia, Southern Seminary, and Columbia Theological Seminary. He later earned a doctorate of theology degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

He served as pastor at Norcross Baptist Church, Sylvan Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta, and Cornelia First Baptist. While at Cornelia, where he completed his doctorate, he founded Camp Agape – a church-based ministry that supported children through Habersham County who suffered from financial, spiritual, and familial needs.

In 1975 he was named executive director of the Georgia Council on Moral and Civic Concerns and became a leading voice on moral issues and church related legislation in Georgia.

He helped raise the state’s legal drinking age and also helped enact an amendment to the State Constitution prohibiting the taxation of church and denominational properties. This resulted in millions of dollars of savings to churches in Georgia. Henderson and his wife also developed a ministry called PACT (Parents and Church Together), which saw thousands of parents and youth commit to living alcohol- and drug-free lives for Christ.

In addition to his wife he leaves four children: Kathy Carroll of Suwanee, Joe Henderson of Pinehurst, NC, Jeff Henderson of Suwanee, and John Henderson of Buford; and seven grandchildren.

A celebration service was held Feb. 26 at Johns Creek Baptist Church. Any donations were requested to be made to Agape Hospice,, Gwinnett Church,, and Johns Creek Baptist Church,