Briefly, I am Robert Thornton (Bob) Henderson. I was was born in Miami, Florida, and grew up in West Palm Beach), graduated from Palm Beach High School (1945), and Davidson College (1949-50). Theological training took place at both Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries. Ordained into the Presbyterian Church ((U.S.) in 1954 as Presbyterian Campus Pastor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. This was followed by ten years as pastor of the Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church of Durham, NC, and the Duke University community. A two year experiment on the effective use of conference ministry to bring renewal to the church (it didn’t work) put me in touch with a broader swath of the Christian church, Catholic and Protestant.
Then six years as pastor of the Canal Street Presbyterian Church of New Orleans, and fascinating engagement with the restless youth culture of the late ’60s and early ’70s got me even more sensitive to cultural trends, questions, and analysis. During that time I was part of an ecumenical pilgrimage in which 28 evangelical Protestants were invited to be guests of the Vatican, and spent two weeks in immersion with members of the Roman Curia. It was also during that New Orleans period that I was part of a denominational council assigned the task of helping the church gain a healthy understanding of the church’s evangelistic mandate. I was the person on the council who influenced the outcome, and so was invited to become denominational staff director of evangelism. These four years not only took me into the corners of the church, its theological institutions, but also got me involved with the National Council of Churches working group on evangelism, and some very seminal discussions with major figures in the field.
This was followed by a fourteen year pastorate in a very bucolic (but tame) pastoral ministry in a small mountain city in Western North Carolina. During those years I wrote extensively, was deeply engaged in associations attempting to foster life and health into a diminishing denomination, and the daily “reality check” of being pastor and disciple-maker with very real persons, real social and cultural issues, an attempting by God’s grace to be faithful to Jesus Christ, whom I worship as Lord.
If you might be interested in my theological and ecclesiastical DNA, you will find influential traces of pietism, Protestant fundamentalism, Dutch and Scottish Calvinism (especially, Herman Ridderbos), Jacques Ellul, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lesslie Newbigin, among so many others. I am heir to a rich tradition, and a life in which God continues to surprise me day by day. But always restless with a church that drifts and forgets it missional essence. Peace!