James Earl Massey Papers

James Earl Massey Headshot

Born in Ferndale, Michigan, on January 4, 1930, James Earl was the fourth son of the Rev. George Wilson Massey, Sr. and Elizabeth Shelton Massey. He confessed faith in Christ in his early years and began preaching when he was sixteen. He was a graduate of Cass Technical High School, Detroit Bible College (later re-named William Tyndale College), Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, and received his doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary.

During 1951-1953, before his pastoral ministry, he served in the U.S. Army Occupational Forces in Austria as a chaplain’s assistant and chapel organist. In 1954 he became a founding member and the lead pastor of Detroit Metropolitan Church of God, a post he held until 1976. His life-long interest as an educator continued during his pastorate, with service years 1963-1966 as Principal of Jamaica School of Theology (Kingston, Jamaica) while on-leave from the Detroit congregation. From 1969-1976 he was the first campus minister and a faculty member at Anderson College; from 1984-1989, Dean of the Chapel and University Professor of Religion and Society at Tuskegee University, and from 1989-1995, he was the Dean of the School of Theology at Anderson University, from which he retired as Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor-at-Large. During his post-retirement years, he resided in Greensboro, Alabama, and returned yearly to Tuskegee University to speak. Finally, he was an adjunct faculty member at Beeson Divinity School in Samford University.

Author of thirty books, including an autobiography (Aspects of My Pilgrimage, 2002), he preached and lectured at more than 150 colleges, universities, and seminaries and received eight honorary doctorates. His personal and professional papers are preserved in collections at Anderson University (IN), Samford University (AL), and Tuskegee University, three institutions he loved, and in which, with distinction, he labored.

Massey married Gwendolyn Inez (Kilpatrick) Massey in 1951. After many years of joyful service in The Faith, James Earl Massey died on June 24, 2018, still persuaded that “The best is yet to be!”

Access James Earl Massey's finding aid here.

Timeline of Massey’s Life

  • Born - January 4, 1930
  • Chaplain assistant in U.S. Army Occupational Forces - 1951-1953
  • Founding member and pastor of Detroit Metropolitan Church of God - 1954-1976
  • President of Jamaica School of Theology - 1963-1966 
  • Anderson College Campus Minister - 1969-1976
  • Speaker on Christian Brotherhood Hour - 1977-1982
  • Professor at Anderson College - 1982-1984
  • Dean of the Chapel and University and Professor of Religion and Society at Tuskegee University -  1984-1989
  • Dean of the School of Theology at Anderson University - 1989-1995
  • Died - June 24, 2018

(Adapted from Celebrating the Life of Reverend Dr. James Earl Massey published by the Metropolitan Church of God for Massey's memorial service.)


"Biographical Overview" Folder, "James Earl Massey Papers", Anderson University and Church of God Archives. Accessed March 17, 2021

Massey, James Earl, Aspects of my Pilgrimage: an Autobiography. Anderson, Indiana: Anderson University Press, 2002

James Earl Massey Papers