NEW YORK, NY (1/20/22)—MMBB Financial Services commemorates the life and legacy of Rev. Henry H. Mitchell, Th.D., who transitioned to his eternal home on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at 102 years of age. Rev. Mitchell was a long-time MMBB member, having enrolled in MMBB’s benefit plans in 1945.
“We’re saddened by Rev. Mitchell’s passing, but we celebrate his life of service to Christ and the church community. He was a legendary preacher, seminary dean, author and mentor across American Baptist Churches USA and other denominational circles,” said Rev. Dr. Perry Hopper, MMBB associate executive director and director of Denominational Relations. “MMBB has been privileged to guide him through his financial journey over the past 77 years.”
Rev. Mitchell was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1919. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University, PA; bachelor’s and Master of Divinity degrees from Union Theological Seminary, N.Y.; a master’s degree in linguistics at California State University; and a doctorate in black church history and theology from Claremont School of Theology, Calif.
From 1945 to 1959, Rev. Mitchell served as an American Baptist regional staff person in Northern California. He spent the next seven years as pastor of Second Baptist Church in Fresno, Calif., and then three years as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Santa Monica, Calif. From 1969 to 1974, he was the first Martin Luther King, Jr., professor of Black Church Studies at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS).
Turning to academia, Dr. Henry Mitchell served as founding director of the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies before semi-retirement from ministry. From 1982 to 1987, he was academic dean and professor of History and Homiletics at Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University. CRCDS appointed him professor emeritus in 1992.
Rev. Mitchell was an accomplished author, having written or co-authored more than half a dozen books including:
- Black Preaching (Harper & Row, 1979; Abingdon, 1990)
- The Recovery of Preaching (Harper, 1977)
- Soul Theology (Harper, 1986; Abingdon, 1991)
- Preaching for Black Self Esteem (Abingdon, 1994)
- A Word for All Seasons (Judson, 2012)
He and his wife of 64 years, Rev. Dr. Ella Pearson Mitchell, co-authored Together for Good (Judson, 2007) and Fire in the Well in 2004. Their wedding marked the beginning of a fruitful partnership. From 1988 to 2000, the couple taught as visiting professors of homiletics at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Georgia while co-mentoring in the Doctor of Ministry Program at the United Theological Seminary in Ohio for 10 years. On the personal front, they raised three children together. The Mitchells were married until Rev. Ella Mitchell passed away in 2008. Rev. Henry Mitchell is survived by his three children and six grandchildren.
Funeral services will take place at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on January 29, 2022, at noon. Rev. Raphael Warnock, Ph. D, U.S. Senator, will preside and give the eulogy. The service will be live-streamed for the public at ebenezeratl.org and www.mitchellfund.org.
MMBB Financial Services is the non-profit financial steward for more than 18,000 members and 5,000 churches and faith-based employers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. As part of our ministry support, we provide flexible, affordable retirement benefit plans and certified financial planning guidance. As pioneers in providing employee retirement benefits, we manage $3 billion in assets. MMBB carries forward a 100-plus-year tradition of offering competitive returns and experienced management advice to meet the unique needs of the religious community, so people of faith can focus on what matters most – their churches, congregations and communities.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.