Reverend Gordon Arlester Humphrey, Sr., the baby child, was born to Gordon and Claudia Humphrey on December 5, 1924, in Ogenaw, Arkansas. When he was three years of age his father passed away causing his mother to return to her home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Reverend Humphrey accepted Christ as his personal savior at the age of nine, at the Second Baptist Church where Reverent A. J. Hubbard was Pastor. Reverend Humphrey accepted his call to preach at the tender age of 18 while at Liberty Baptist Church, under the spiritual guidance of the late Pastor. D. Z. Jackson.
Reverend Humphrey, Sr.’s family moved to Chicago where he graduated from DuSable High School in 1944 as president of his graduating class. Reverend Humphrey, Sr. was one of the first students at the Chicago Baptist Institute. He also attended Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago and received an honorary doctorate degree from Bell Grove Theological Seminary.
The next call from the Lord directed Reverend Humphrey, Sr. the under-shepherd position at the Second Baptist Church in Harvey, Illinois. At the age of 19, Reverend Humphrey, Sr. led this flock to building a completely new church structure. During his seven years at Second Baptist, he met and married his gifted wife, Helen (Warfield). Charlene, his favorite daughter was born in 1947.
Reverend Humphrey, Sr.’s next assignment directed him to lead the people of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Richmond, Indiana. Following his three years at Mt. Moriah, Reverend Humphrey, Sr. accepted the pastoral position at Bethel Baptist Church in Akron, Ohio. It was during this assignment that Reverend Humphrey, Sr. adopted the scripture of John 12:32 where Jesus says, ”And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” The ministry was blessed with the opportunity to be broadcast across the United States, and the Humphreys were blessed with the births of their sons Gordon Jr. and Michael.
In 1962, abiding God’s continued call, Reverend Humphrey, Sr. returned to Chicago, Illinois. This would mark the beginning of an acclaimed 43 year love story as shepherd to the congregation at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.
Reverend Humphrey, Sr. was a civic leader who was dedicated to serving the 4th ward. Over the years, he welcomed many local, national, and international personalities including acclaimed gospel singers like Mahalia Jackson and The Staple singers, local and national politicians, and civil rights leaders. He provided a safe haven, covering, and meeting location for Jesse L. Jackson’s Operation Push, until the organization acquired a permanent home. Reverend Humphrey was active with the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., General Baptist State Convention of Illinois, the Salem District Association, and he was a board member of One Church, One Child.
Reverend Humphrey, Sr. was known for having an open door policy when it came to mentoring young preachers and pastors. As a result, he was instrumental in the founding of several churches including:
Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Oakland, California, New Alpha Missionary Baptist Church, in Burlington, Vermont, Salem Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois, and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan. All of these ministries expanded to provide leadership to countless other preachers, pastors, and ministries. Reverend Humphrey, Sr. ordained more than 20 ministers as he consistently committed himself to responding to the Lord\’s call to nurture and mentor those around him.
On February 6, 2006, Reverend Humphrey, Sr. answered his final call from the Master to come home. He had completed his work here on earth. He left a legacy that continues to reach the masses and bless those committed to serving the Lord. We thank God we were graced with his presence. We take comfort in knowing he rest eternally in the arms of our Lord.