The Rev. J.H. Brown pastors four churches in the Delta in addition to holding a day job during the week, but he likes staying busy.
Brown, 61, will celebrate his 34th anniversary as pastor of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Greenwood this Sunday, and he has also led St. Luke M.B. Church in Tippo for 34 years. He has spent more than 20 years as pastor of Ryles Chapel M.B. Church in Minter City and Holly Grove M.B. Church in Charleston.
Mount Olive holds services on the first and fifth Sundays of each month. Ryles Chapel meets on the second Sunday, Holly Grove on the third and St. Luke on the fourth.
“It takes me different directions,” said Brown, who lives in the Rising Sun subdivision. “I’m going this way this Sunday and another way next Sunday.”
James Henry Brown was born in Oxford, the son of the Rev. J.B. Brown, who was pastor of Springhill M.B. Church there. J.H. Brown enjoyed hunting and fishing, worked in his grandfather’s garden and did other chores. He also got used to spending his Sundays involved in church activities from morning to night, and he remembers having good role models around him.
His family moved to Greenwood when he was 16, and he attended Amanda Elzy High School for a time before leaving to work for the Buddy Jones Ford dealership. He hadn’t planned to go into ministry, but after hearing God’s call at the age of 22, he found he couldn’t ignore it. So he furthered his education at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson.
He preached his first sermon July 27, 1979, at Springhill M.B. Church in the Browning community, where he is still a member. He had been excited about the day, and he remembers there was a good turnout at the service. He thought it went well, although he was nervous at first — and he admits he still feels some nerves before preaching, even if it’s only momentary.
“I think every time you get up, you feel kind of scared,” he said. “But it passes away.”
Each of his four churches has a long history as well as its own personalities and financial considerations, but Brown has been able to juggle it all — plus, he said, he has good help at all of them.
“Over time, when you get to know everybody and everybody gets to know you, you build relationships at those places,” he said, adding that some children he baptized years ago now have children of their own.
He often has to eat on the way to church from his day job, and things get even busier when his churches hold revivals. In addition, he often speaks at revivals at other churches.
“I feel like I was led by the Spirit,” he said. “I feel like I’m where God wants me to be or where he has placed me to be.”
He also has overseen major projects such as Mount Olive’s move from Schlater to Greenwood three years ago and St. Luke’s recent move into a new building in Tippo.
Both involved a lot of planning and meetings, but the moves have worked out well, he said.
Mount Olive gave away school supplies Sunday and also has other activities from time to time. “We’re always looking forward to doing something that will reach out to the community,” Brown said.
On weekdays, Brown works as a road foreman for the Leflore County Unit System. He has worked for the county since 1999.
“I’ve always done outside work, so that’s kind of what I like,” he said. “I’m not a factory type of worker. I don’t like being enclosed. I like being out.”
He and his wife, Katie, have been married for 34 years. They have three daughters: Jackie Brownlow of Greenwood and Marilyn Brownlow and Qutishia Brown, both of Jackson. They raised a niece, LaQuandra Dye, from the age of 4 after the death of her mother. She now lives in Oxford.
The Browns also have four grandchildren.
J.H. Brown said he doesn’t have much free time, but he usually spends it reading. What little travel he does usually involves church work; he preaches often around the Delta and sometimes elsewhere.
He said his health is good, and he plans to keep leading all four of his churches as long as he can. And although he has enjoyed his work for Leflore County, he said, “I’m looking forward to being able to retire and just donate all my time and service to the ministry.”
•Contact David Monroe at 581-7236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.