Henderson became friends with King, Sr., while serving as pastor of Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta during the 1930s.1 Henderson later moved to Los Angeles to become pastor of Second Baptist Church. Henderson encloses a letter to King, Jr.
Rev. M. L. King, Sr.
169 Boulevard, N.E.
Dear Brother King:
They told me you have a son that can preach rings around you any day you ascend the pulpit. How about that? If it is so, it is a compliment to you. I hope you are well and that your work moves on nicely. The Lord has been good to the work here. I am deeply grateful. I hope to see you in Atlantic City at the Congress.2
Please address enclosure and mail to M. L., Jr. at Montgomery. Best wishes to your dear wife.
J. Raymond Henderson
1. J. Raymond Henderson (1898–1985) graduated from Virginia Union University, Oberlin College, and Andover-Newton Theological Seminary. After serving churches in New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia he was called to Atlanta’s Wheat Street Baptist Church, where he remained from 1931 to 1937. In 1937, he became pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church in New Rochelle, New York, but soon moved to Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California, the largest Baptist congregation in the city. By 1953 its social ministry had built the Henderson Community Center, which housed a day nursery, a home for the aged, two dormitories for working women, and a recreation building. Several years after King led a week-long revival at Second Baptist, Henderson chose King as his first choice to succeed him as pastor. King declined the call. See Velva Henderson to King Papers Project, 3 July 1990.
2. King attended the National Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress that met in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in June.
MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954–1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.