Miss Henrietta Mae Griffith
Henrietta Griffith, was born in Stockton, New Jersey on November 30, 1923, and went to
her heavenly home on Friday, September 24, 2021 at the age of 97. She was preceded in death by her parents Ambrose and Sarah Griffith, her sister Edna (Delamater) and brother-in-law John, brother Harold Griffith and sister-in-law. She found Christ to be real under the preaching of Jarrett Aycock at the State Street Methodist Church in 1937, when about 14 years old. When attending the Pennington Institute Youth Camp a couple of years later, she clearly was called of God to serve as a missionary in Kentucky.Henrietta graduated from Camden High School in January of 1942, after which she enrolled in night classes at the College of South Jersey while working full time during the day. She completed schooling there by the summer of 1943, and transferred to Asbury College as a junior in the fall of 1943.
She graduated from Asbury College in the spring of 1945, and continued her education at Asbury Theological Seminary the next fall. Out of funds with only one semester to finish, Henrietta took a teaching position at the Beech Creek School, a one room school house in rural McCreary County. It schooled 64 students and covered eight grades. She taught the 1946-47 school year there, and in the fall of 1947 enrolled at KMBI. The 1947-48 school year at KMBI brought Henrietta into the experience of entire sanctification, which she continued to live and extol. She graduated in May of 1948, and was sent to work with Miss Kirk at Jetts Creek and Mill Branch, two Kentucky Mountain Holiness Out-Stations. It was there that she became acquainted with horses, and learned to ride out of necessity (as it was their only transportation).
At the end of the summer, Henrietta was moved to Lee County to teach at the Tallega Mission Elementary School, where she taught through the 1948-49 school year and ministered on the weekends at both Tallega and Mill Branch. When the school year at Tellega concluded, Henrietta returned to New Jersey to earn enough money to complete her master’s degree at the Asbury Theological Seminary. She graduated with her master’s in the Spring of 1950. She spent the summer at the University of Kentucky studying Library science at the direction of Miss McConnell, and at summer’s end returned to KMBI with plans to teach.
Henrietta Griffith, affectionately known as Miss Griff, invested so much into the work and ministry of Kentucky Mountain Bible College. She was the embodiment of a well lived holiness life and left a lasting impact on all those that she met and ministered to. Miss Griff taught at KMBC, formerly KMBI for over 60 years – the effect of her ministry and passion for teaching on the Kingdom of God cannot be measured this side of Heaven.
Ministry in Kentucky
Almost immediately after her return, Miss McConnell called her down to Mt Carmel High School and told her she was to start teaching at the high school. She protested that she had a calling to the work at KMBI, to which Miss McConnell responded that they needed her at Mt Carmel, and she could go to KMBI as soon as she could pray-in a replacement. At that, Henrietta was given her books and discovered she would be teaching two freshmen English classes, two sophomore English classes, a geometry class, and a speech class — beginning the next day! She taught the 1950-51 school year at Mt Carmel, and the next year began a 62 year stint of teaching and ministry at KMBI, a replacement for Mt Carmel having been prayed-in.
Henrietta’s first revival was preached at the KMHA church in Yocum in the early 1950’s. She had prayed if God wanted her to continue to preach and hold occasional revivals, He would grant her souls in this revival. A number found heartfelt victory, and she had her answer.
She spent many Eastern Kentucky summers assisting KMHA pastors in a great variety of ways; from teaching, preaching, and visiting to carpentry, breaking rock and providing vacation breaks for the workers. She also served in several primitive areas of Eastern Kentucky when schoolhouses were used for services, and pastored in KMHA churches at Wrigley and Consolation for 15 years. During her tenure in pastoral ministry she trained a number of students and many will testify that they found Christ through her consistent and anointed ministry. From 1954 to 1990 Miss Griffith supervised the ladies dormitory at KMBI, and as she states, “with delight and joy”
She was committed to the education of men and women to the necessity and benefits of total abstinence from alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco. She joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in 1951 and served as the National Christian Outreach Director for 9 years, the Kentucky State President for 25 years, served on the National Board and was honored with member emeritus status.
For nine summers she spent traveling with KMBI’s ladies quartet, and several others in committed children’s ministry in churches and camps. She also served as a youth camp worker, bible teacher and evangelist for a number of years. Additionally, she did two radio programs on WMTC; a 15 minute travel-log and a 30 minute bible study.
In 1968 she was ordained as a minister in the Wesleyan Church. She directed a tour and study in the Holy Lands in 1983, and at invitation in 1986, served her Savior in India. During her 62 year active tenure at KMBI, she initiated and developed the Christian Education Curriculum for Church Ministries, set up the Teacher Education Program, and served as the Director of Christian Service for 40 years. She was an anointed teacher, taught a plethora of classes, and demonstrated her love in the classroom with joy and tears. She also served as President of the Alumni Association for several years and as editor of its publication for 12 years.
Later in Life
She and her dear friend Mary Ellen Mowery were voted to be the best fans of Breathitt County High School sports. When Breathitt’s football team played and won the first of their three State Championships of their division in Louisville, KY the weather was terrible with snow on the roads and a cold wind causing many fans to stay at home. What a surprise to the local fans when they saw (quote) “Those two old ladies from the Bible College” settling into their seats to cheer on their Bobcats. Pulling for our local sports teams endeared Miss Griffith to the local people.
Though never a mother Henrietta was a “Spiritual Mother” to literally hundreds of students to whom Jesus used her to be a role model, mentor, and example of what holiness theology looks like dressed in everyday work clothes.
Miss Griffith taught a Tuesday morning bible study at the Senior Citizens Center in Jackson for a number of years until she was 90 and some physical issues got in her way. She and Miss Mowery moved into a house designed and built for them on campus in 2015, but she has changed locations. She now is rejoicing in the presence of her Savior and Lord, walking without pain and knowing Him as she is known. A life of dedicated service, very well lived.
KMBC Faculty, Staff, Students, and all those who knew her remember dearly this great saint who is now enjoying her heavenly reward with her faithful Savior Jesus Christ.