category: Faculty Emeriti - Presidents

James Lineberry (J.L.) Jenkins

Third President, 1932-1935

The Rev. James Lineberry Jenkins (1882-1973) was born in Stanly County, N.C., the son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Jenkins. After completing his elementary and high school  years in the Stanly County Schools, he enrolled in Wake Forest College, from which he received the Bachelor of Arts degree. He then entered the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he received the Bachelor of Divinity degree. 

He married the former Miss Kate Watson, who died in 1946. They had four children: J.L. (Jay) Jenkins Jr.; Cathy (Mrs. Eugene) Vosecky; Neil (Mrs. Roy G.) Burris Jr.; and Betty (Mrs. Eugene) Washburn.  

During the early years of his ministry, Jenkins was pastor of Parkton Baptist Church, Lumber Bridge Baptist Church, Southport Baptist Church, all in North Carolina, and Umatilla Baptist Church in Florida. Returning to North Carolina from Florida, he was named the State Evangelist for The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. 

In 1927, Jenkins was called as pastor of the Boiling Springs Baptist Church. He served for 25 years, retiring in 1952. During this period, he was also pastor for a time of both Mount Sinai Baptist Church and Zion Baptist Church of the Kings Mountain Baptist Association. 

While pastor of the local church, Jenkins was associated with the Boiling Springs college as well. Officially he served as chaplain, teacher and on two occasions as president, from 1932-1935 and between the presidencies of George Burnett and J.R. Cantrell. He was president of the school during the Great Depression of the early 1930s and served without a salary. At that time the college was short of funds, and there was not enough money to pay the faculty. Additionally, the physical plant was in need of many repairs, and the water system was inadequate. It was through the generosity of a Boiling Springs merchant that the college was able to continue to operate. Jenkins provided monumental leadership as a pastor, community leader, and president of the Institution. His commitment to the success of the college was paramount to preventing the closure of the School during a time of challenges.  

As a tribute to Jenkins, a special collection of books named the J.L. Jenkins Memorial Library for Rural Pastors was added to the John R. Dover Memorial Library on the campus. This collection of books was started by the spontaneous gift from a Washington, D.C., resident who was a student under Jenkins when he was the unpaid president of Boiling Springs College. 

As a pastor and teacher, Jenkins touched and blessed the lives of many faculty members and countless numbers of students. Especially close to him were the “preacher boys,” many of whom he taught unforgettable lessons in homiletics and interpretation of the scriptures. There were several stories carried throughout the years about alumni from his classes who went into ministry and utilized his succinct and vivid sermon outline methods. Throughout the country there have been hundreds of pulpits occupied by those who learned the art of the pastorate from Jenkins. 

Woodrow Hill, a Gardner-Webb student in 1933, recalled how Jenkins would often come to the residence halls and talk with the “preacher boys.” His home was always open to the many who came by to either chat with him or to get advice on some subject. Many evenings were spent with groups who came together for homiletical discussions. Hill commented, “Most of these young men learned years later in seminary just how well Jenkins had prepared them for their courses of study and for their pulpit ministries.” 

Jenkins also served as a faculty member at Fruitland Bible College, where he ministered to many young preachers who could not afford to go to college. Their education was limited or they were older when they received the calls to preach and did not have money to go to college. 

J.L. Jenkins Day was held at Boiling Springs Baptist Church on May 11, 1952, on his 25th anniversary as pastor. Jenkins was recognized for his many areas of service to the church, the college (university), the association, the convention, the state, and Fruitland College. 

The late Mrs. M. A. Jolley, a church historian, made the following comment, “We recognize Brother Jenkins as an outstanding preacher and interpreter of the scripture. He is known and loved by the people of Boiling Springs and all over the state of North Carolina. His sermons have always been scriptural, true to life, and refreshing.” An average of 50 people had been added, either by baptism or by letter, to the church each year during his pastorate. 

Since Boiling Springs Baptist Church once stood near where Dover Chapel now stands, many Gardner-Webb students participated in the life of the church.  

The Rev. Robert W. Abrams once made the following statement: “Gardner-Webb College is pleased to salute and honor the memory of James Lineberry Jenkins for his sterling character, his exemplary conduct, his effective and influential ministry, and his service to God and mankind.” 

Source: Rev. Robert W. Abrams, Tribute to Rev. John Jenkins; Hill, Looking to the Beginning; Biblical Recorder. 

– Dorothy Hamrick Edwards 

– Revised: Noel T. Manning II, May 2022 

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