Mourning the Loss of James Earl Massey

Dr. James Earl Massey, dean emeritus of the Anderson University School of Theology and Christian Ministry, passed away June 24, 2018. He was also a Distinguished Elder-at-large for the National Association of the Church of God.

Growing up in Detroit, Massey heard the call to ministry at the age of 16. “In all the years which have transpired since that holy hour, I have never had any reason to reinterpret what happened to me during that great listening moment of grace,” he wrote in his biography, Aspects of My Pilgrimage. “The voice that called me was so clear, and its bidding, though gentle, bore the unmistakable authority of a higher realm. Since that time of encounter during worship, I have known the work to which my head, heart, and hands were to be devoted.”

Massey earned his bachelor’s degree from William Tyndale College, master’s degree from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, and doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. He came to Anderson in 1969 to serve as the university’s first campus pastor, a role he held until 1976. During that time, he also taught in both the undergraduate and graduate schools. He returned to AU in 1989 to lead the seminary, retiring in 1995.

During his ministry, Massey also served as senior pastor of the Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, missionary educator in Jamaica, speaker on the “Christian Brotherhood Hour” radio broadcast, and dean of the chapel of Tuskegee University. He preached and lectured at more than 100 colleges, universities, and seminaries in the United States and on four continents. A prolific writer, Massey authored 18 books and provided editorial leadership for the magazine Christianity Today as well as The New Interpreter’s Bible.

Massey will also be remembered for his great passion for music. He began playing the piano at the age of 7, and until he received the call to ministry, had planned on becoming a classical pianist. His musical talent served him well when after his ordination he was called into action by the U.S. military. He was fortunate to be able to serve in Austria, where he worked as a chaplain’s assistant, manager of the chapel office, and organist for the camp chapel services. While in Austria, he also successfully auditioned to become a piano student at Salzburg’s Mozarteum.

“Dr. James Earl Massey has been a living legend in the Church of God movement and a noteworthy scholar and administrator of Anderson University,” said John S. Pistole, president of Anderson University. “Dr. Massey impacted countless lives for Christ and the Kingdom, and while there is a sense of loss here, we know there is much celebrating in heaven for his homecoming with the recognition, well done, good and faithful servant. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Gwendolyn, and their family.”

We join Church of God Ministries and the National Association of the Church of God in mourning this loss. Both organizations plan to provide service information when it becomes available.

Anderson University will host a celebration of Dr. Massey’s life from 5-6 p.m. on Thursday, July 12 in York Performance Hall.

Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.

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