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The Life & Legacy of Dr. Henry Thomas Rhim, Sr., Pastor Emeritus
Dr. Henry Thomas Rhim, Sr., Pastor Emeritus was born May 10, 1932, in Jacksonville, Florida to the late John and Flossie Rhim as an only child. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior at an early age at Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. He attended Old Stanton High School, graduate of the class of 1951. On November 3, 1951, he was united in holy matrimony to the late Mellnease Kendrick. From this union two children were born – Barbara Ann and Henry (Hank) Thomas Rhim, Jr.
He was employed with the United States Postal Service for 30 years (1957-1987). He was ordained as a minister at Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of Rev. B.J. Lane. He received his Theological training from Luther Rice Seminary, Trinity Seminary, and Southern Baptist Leadership Conference. In 1970, the Lord sent him to Black Bottom as the Pastor of St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church. At that time 35 saints met Pastor Rhim and vowed to work with God’s plan.
As the Pastor of St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church, he licensed/ordained 21 preachers, 44 deacons and 47 deaconesses. Under his leadership, the first Stones Day celebration was observed. The original location, 533 Dewdrop Street was designated as an Historical Landmark. The new Sanctuary, 485 W. First Street was purchased, built, mortgage paid off, renovated and the Multipurpose Building was constructed. The first Joint Vacation Bible School and first Joint Retreat with Day Spring Baptist Church was established. The first Joint Thanksgiving and Christmas services with Bethel Baptist Institutional Church and First Baptist of Oakland were held. Adopted Centennial Townhouses West in May 1992. The Black Bottom/Springfield Human Development Corporation was formed with Day Spring Baptist and Mt. Sinai Baptist Churches on February 13, 1997. Currently St. Joseph is the existing partner and operates as the St. Joseph Homeownership Ministry.
In addition to his role as Pastor, Dr. Rhim served in State and National Offices. Under the leadership of Dr. J.C. Sams (deceased), past President of the Progressive Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention of Florida, Rev. Dr. Henry Rhim was appointed to the finance committee of the convention and was an instructor in the Progressive Missionary and Educational Baptist State Sunday School and B.T.U. Congress. In March 1983 he was appointed 2nd Vice President of the convention. In March 1986 he was elected to his first term as President of the convention and was re-elected to his tenth term in March 1995. At the end of his tenure as President, he was named President Emeritus.
Nationally, Dr. Rhim was appointed to the finance committee of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. by the late President, Dr. J.C. Sams, and served into the leadership of past president, the late Dr. E. Edward Jones. In 1989,
Dr. Rhim was added to the Board of Directors of the Congress of National Black Churches, where he served as chairman of the Personnel Committee (appointed August 1994 and served until April 2000). In 1990 President Jones appointed him
4th Vice President of the National Baptist Convention. He served through the tenure of President Jones (until September 2003). Under the leadership of President Stephen Thurston, Dr. Rhim was appointed to serve as Chairman of the NBCA Publishing Board (2005).
In 1996 Rev. Dr. Henry Rhim wrote two (2) devotionals for the African American Devotional Bible, published by Zondervan under the auspices of the Congress of National Black Churches.
As President of the Progressive M & E Baptist State Convention, Dr. Rhim was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Florida Memorial College, where he served on the Executive Committee of the Board. In October 2002, Dr. Rhim was added to the Board of Trustees of the Florida Memorial College Foundation, now dissolved. In 2005, Dr. Rhim was named Treasurer of the College.
Under the auspices of the late, past President Dr. J.B. Adams, Dr. Rhim was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Florida Theological Seminary in Lakeland, FL. In May 1996 under the support of President Albert
Smith, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Florida Memorial College. In June 2003 under the auspices of President Carl Akins, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Theology from Temple Bible College and Seminary in Cincinnati, OH. On May 30, 2008, under the influence of President G.I. Bradley, Dr. Rhim was awarded honorary Doctorate Degree in Literary Letters from Berean Bible College and Seminary. In May 2011 under the leadership of newly appointed President Nathaniel Glover, Dr. Rhim was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity Degree from Edward Waters College and was the commencement speaker for the graduating class. Rev. Dr. Henry Rhim was again honored by the Baptist Ministers Conference of Duval and Adjacent Counties, Dr. D.K. Bolden, President, with the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award
at the Martin Luther King Breakfast sponsored by the Baptist Ministers Conference. On April 5, 2013, the Jacksonville Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference presented Pastor Rhim with the honor of being one of the
recipients of their SCLC Legends, Pioneers, and Trailblazers Award. February 26, 2015, Pastor Rhim received Mayor Alvin Brown’s Trail Blazer Award Recognizing him as a longtime community activist and role model. The Barker Foundation, in its first Ministry Legends Awards Ceremony named Pastor Rhim as one of the legends in ministry on October 16, 2015. During the month of April 2019 St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church organized weekly activities honoring Pastor Rhim after his retirement announcement. The City of Jacksonville honored him for his lifetime of faith, leadership and service in April 2019. Following his retirement, Pastor Rhim was officially acclaimed by the church to be Pastor Emeritus. Former Mayor of Jacksonville, Alvin Brown, spear-headed the movement to re-name the block that our present sanctuary is located to REVEREND HENRY T RHIM BLVD. The official unveiling ceremony was held September 18, 2019.
He was a very devoted husband who spoiled his wife for almost 70 years. He was a very protective and caring father and Big Daddy to his family. He was a loving and giving person to ALL.
He loved teaching, joking, taking vacations and reclining in his study.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Flossie Rhim; his wife, Mellnease Kendrick Rhim; and son-in-law Alphonso Hayes.
Servant of God “Well Done” … Dr. Henry Thomas Rhim, Sr. Pastor Emeritus made his transition on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
His legacy will be cherished by a devoted daughter, Barbara Rhim Hayes and son, Henry T. (Karen) Rhim, Jr; Grandchildren, Tonette Jordon, Eric (Karletta) Hayes, Tierra (Reynaldo) Davilla, Marlon Rhim and Breona Monique Hayes; Great-grands, Tonie and Calvin Jordon, Khaleel Hayes, Mariah Davilla, Jayden and Brandon Hayes; Great-grand Dog, Purple Reign Hayes; Goddaughter, Deirdre (Rev. E.C.) Gregory, other relatives, friends and his special cousins Doris, Maria and Millnease.
A special “thank you” to his devoted team Debora Steele, Lorenzo Reed, Mozella Jackson and Darryl Alston for your love, support, and dedication to the Rhim family.
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