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Rev. Christopher Henry

Rev. Christopher Henry
Senior Pastor
317-253-6461
chenry@secondchurch.org

 



Below is a playlist of short videos to help you get to know Chris and his family a little better:

Rev. Chris Henry came to Second from Shallowford Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, where he served as Senior Pastor for seven years. He is a graduate of Duke University (B.A. in Religion) and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He has served the wider church in a variety of capacities, currently serving as a member of Columbia Seminary’s board of trustees, the advisory board of NEXT Church, and on the board of the Alliance for Christian Media.

Chris has a passion for preaching that both inspires and challenges all to faithful living in complex times. He believes that churches have the capacity and the mandate to be places of transformation in the lives of individuals, the surrounding community and the world.

His wife, Rev. Sara Hayden, has served since 2014 as Ministry Associate for the 1001 New Worshipping Communities movement of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The couple has two sons, Samuel and Benjamin.


Q&A with Chris Henry

1. Why are you considering the call to come to Second?

Because I truly believe that God is calling us to join in ministry together. While I have never experienced God’s call as a flash of lightning or thundering voice from the heavens, I believe God does speak to us in palpable ways. For me, this has most often come in conversations with those who know and love me best and in the subtle but steady form of experiences that point the way forward. Since last summer, I have seen and heard God’s call to consider this unique ministry opportunity.

2. What intrigues you about our congregation? What opportunities most excite you?

Second Presbyterian Church is, without a doubt, a leading congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and of mainline Protestantism. I am intrigued and inspired by the incredible history of this congregation and its vital role in shaping the future of faith in our nation. The vision and leadership capacity of Second Presbyterian can be a catalyst for renewal both within this congregation and far beyond. I am also excited for opportunities to engage in meaningful dialogue and action on the issues that face Indianapolis and the wider culture. I believe that God has gifted this church in such a wide variety of ways, and I believe that God’s gifts always come with a call to use them in the service of others.

3. What leadership positions have you held?

In addition to serving as senior pastor of a growing congregation for the last seven years, I have had the opportunity to provide leadership to the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta through its Coordinating Council and Examinations Commission. I have also enjoyed serving our denomination and am now a member of the Board of Trustees at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia and on the Advisory Board of the NEXT Church movement.

4. What would you say have been your greatest accomplishments at your current church?

The Shallowford congregation has really experienced remarkable growth over the last seven years. We have increased from a membership of 717 to a membership of 1,048 in that time, and our annual budget has increased by 61%. Among those who have joined the Shallowford congregation in that time, many are young families or have young children. This has contributed to a sense of renewed energy and vitality in the church. Still, I think perhaps the greatest accomplishment of our time together has been the genuine sense of intergenerational community that has emerged. I love serving a church with active members at every stage of life, and particularly enjoy watching relationships form among those representing different life stages. Shallowford has grown deeper and wider in our time together.

5. What is your favorite thing about being a pastor?

Baptisms! Also, the amazing privilege of walking with people and communities through every joy and sorrow that life can bring, and representing the presence of God with them in each moment. I continue to be astounded that God has called me to serve in this way. Astounded, and grateful.

6. Why did you feel called to ministry?

Church has always been home for me. When I was a freshman at Duke University, I began to sense that God was calling me into ministry. I considered whether that might be mission work, academic pursuits, or a ministry of advocacy. And then, I felt called back home to the place where my call was formed. In the intervening years, I had fallen in love with the power of the spoken word. And so, I discovered the gift of preaching and the joy of serving congregations…it was a perfect fit!

7. What appeals to you about being part of PC(USA)?

The PC(USA) is my theological home because it has shaped my faith and my life. I was born nine months before reunification, and so I am roughly as old as the denomination, which seems fitting. I love being part of a denomination that takes the Bible seriously, that honors different and even divergent perspectives, that believes God calls us to live faithfully, and that trusts in God’s sovereign love.

8. What is your favorite Bible passage?

Honestly, it depends on the situation! For me, the letters of Paul have been formative and instructive. I am especially drawn to his letter to the Romans. I am challenged by his instruction at the end of the letter, Romans 15:7, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” What would it mean to welcome others just as Christ has welcomed us?! How might that bring glory to God?

9. Tell us about your family.

I grew up as the second of four children and am the son of a Presbyterian minister and a clinical psychologist. Since August of 2008, I have been married to Rev. Sara Hayden, who is on our denomination’s staff as part of the 1001 New Worshipping Communities movement. We have two sons—Samuel is four and Benjamin is one. We are loving the energy of two young sons and missing some of the sleep that once came so easily!

10. What do you enjoy in your free time?

A few years ago, I decided to become a runner. I hated it for three months, then I fell in love with it. Now, I try to carve out time for running, which is good for body, mind and spirit. I love watching college basketball (mostly Duke basketball), eating out with friends and reading a good biography or novel.

11. What is your favorite food?

Is coffee a food? If so, I’ll go with that. If not, I would say that Indian cuisine is a current favorite—I love the spices and preparation methods of good south Asian food.

12. Who are your favorite sports teams?

I was fortunate enough to experience a men’s national basketball championship my freshmen year at Duke. As one who had been a fan since I was seven years old, that was a highlight of my college years. I still try to get back for a game or two each year. While I follow professional sports, my allegiance is somewhat thin. I do like the Carolina Panthers (growing up in NC) and the St. Louis Cardinals (where my brother lives)…but I guess I should say Colts and Pacers, right?


Letter from Rev. Chris Henry:

Dear Friends,
Though we have not yet had the opportunity to meet, you have been in my heart and mind for several months now. I am filled with hope and anticipation for the journey that is ahead of us, and I am deeply honored to be nominated to serve as your next Senior Pastor. In conversation with friends, mentors, and colleagues around the nation and particularly in exploring this potential call with the faithful and gifted members of your Pastoral Nominating Committee, my vision of Second Presbyterian Church has grown in clarity and depth. I know that to serve as your pastor means building on an extraordinary foundation of Christian witness, worship, mission, and discipleship. I know that to join in your ministry means becoming part of one of our nation’s most vibrant and gifted congregations. Your contributions to the city of Indianapolis, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Christian Church around the world, are truly remarkable. I am humbled and I am grateful.

I have been deeply blessed by the privilege of serving for seven years as Senior Pastor of Shallowford Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. We have experienced wonderful growth and have seen the power of God at work in broad and deep ways among us. I continue to find my ministry at Shallowford both rewarding and challenging, and the congregation has been a community of grace for our family. Still, from my first conversation with your PNC co-chairs, I could sense that God’s Spirit was on the move. With the eyes of my heart, I could see the possibilities ahead. Since that time, you have not been far from my mind or my prayers. As others came and went, this potential call remained like a steady drumbeat that began to sound like God’s own voice. I am convinced that God was, and is, calling me to Second Presbyterian Church.

My partner in this journey of life and ministry, and the most spiritually-centered person I know, is Sara Hayden. We will celebrate our tenth anniversary in August. The greatest joy of our life together is the gift of being parents to Samuel and Benjamin. Sam is a wise and kind four-year-old who loves to be exploring outside or listening to a good story. Ben, who turned one on March 10, is on the verge of walking and loves to follow his big brother around. We join you as a family and look forward to making Second our church home.

From my earliest memories to my most recent worship experience, church has been the place where I have met God. In congregations of faithful believers who gather regularly to be sustained and sent out, I have witnessed the risen Christ. In strangers who become sisters and brothers, I have seen the Spirit weave the fabric of community together in profound ways. In the power of sacred words read and shared, I have come to believe in a living God who is still speaking. My prayer is that our ministry together will be a testimony to God’s grace at work in the world. I can’t wait to get started!

With gratitude and joy,
Chris


Pastoral Nominating Committee: Karen Buttrey, Co-Chair, Jerry Hallett, Co-Chair
Beth Bedwell, Carolyn Dederer, Bob Getts, Shadreck Kamwendo, Bud Melton, Eric Mercer, Anne Nobles,
Bill Sando, Kristine Seufert and Cindy Swider


Who is Chris Henry?

I cannot think of a greater blessing for Second Presbyterian church than to have Chris Henry step into the role of your soon-to-be Senior Pastor. Your storied congregation will soon discover that you have called one of the most gifted Christian leaders of this generation. Chris is a rare combination of high intellect and warm-heartedness. He preaches a message that challenges the mind, nourishes the spirit, and encourages discipleship. He also has a swell sense of humor and genuinely enjoys every aspect of ministry. He is beloved by centenarians, babies in the nursery and everyone else in between. He loves them all right back.

Chris and I have known one another since he came to work as seminary intern at a church I served as pastor in Atlanta. The congregation immediately fell in love with him. When he graduated from seminary (at the top of his class), he was ordained as our Associate Pastor, a job he fulfilled as if he already had twenty years of experience under his belt. He was a great colleague from the start. After he became pastor of his own congregation in Atlanta, his tenure there was soon marked by strong numerical and spiritual growth on the part of the membership, a flourishing children and youth program, and broad, effective outreach into the community.

You will love Chris and his wife Sara Hayden, an especially gifted minister herself who knows more about new church development than anyone else around. Their family is filled with love and delight, and their splendid little boys, Samuel and Ben, will soon steal your hearts.

All of this is to say that the Second Presbyterian Pastoral Search Committee has found for you a genuine treasure. I have no doubt that Chris will lead you well into a new tomorrow and a deeper life in Christ.

To God be the glory!

Rev. Dr. Joanna M. Adams 
Pastor Emerita, Morningside Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, GA

I am thrilled that Chris will be the next pastoral leader for Second Presbyterian Church. I have always found Chris to be a person of high integrity and humility. He is an excellent leader who is authentically himself both in and out of the pulpit. I look forward to what happens in the next season of Second Presbyterian Church’s life.

Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner
Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL

From the day I met Chris Henry as a freshman at Duke, I knew that God had given us someone very special. As a student, Chris always took the most demanding courses and pushed himself to prepare as best he could, because of his great respect for the mission of Jesus Christ and the part he was to play in that mission.

After watching him thrive in seminary, I got to see Chris dive into pastoral leadership. Testing himself in a variety of church situations, Chris showed what good judgment God had used in calling and equipping someone like Chris to lead the church.

And now Chris has been called to one of the grand congregations in his denomination. Chris Henry is just the right person to lead Second Presbyterian into the future. Hey, Second Pres, hold on to your hats. With Chris Henry as your pastor, you will end up miles from here!

Will Willimon
Former Dean, Duke University Chapel, United Methodist Bishop, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke University