Rev. Lillie Henley, Interim Minister,
Third Unitarian Church
Rev. Lillie Mae Henley is definitely a southern woman. She has the grace and charm of her mother, who was, her self a steel magnolia. “Well, maybe not the grace, but definitely the charm!”
She will be the first to tell you that her parents, both southern country folk taught her many life lessons that have helped her become the person and the minister she is. She grew up destined to go to college to get an MRS. degree. A baby boomer who knows her roots and has found wings for the challenges of ministry. She credits her mother, a farmer’s daughter from southeast Texas, and her father, a coal-miner’s son from Alabama, with teaching her a strong work ethic, and encouraging her to question the status quo in what ever environment she found herself. “My mother was a country Baptist and my father was an atheist,” she says. “They never argued about religion, other things, sure, but not religion!”
She is the first person in her family to graduate from university. It is probably more miracle than life’s chances that she has a professional degree, a Master of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School. Whatever it is, she credits Jung’s supra other, for her call to ministry. She is, and has been, committed to social justice work. Everywhere she lives, she connects with those who seek justice, equity, and safety for women and children, the homeless, the marginalized, and the oppressed. She has a special place in her heart for the needs of youth and young adults who are transgender. Her volunteer work, as wells as ministries, have focused on these societal challenges.
Rev. Henley served her first church Winston-Salem UUF as an interim in 1998. She then served the First Unitarian Church of Toledo, Ohio, as a two-year interim. The Westside UU Congregation then called her to her home state of Texas, where she served for three years. Her next settlement was to the Universalist National Memorial Church in Washington, D.C. where she served for five years. In 2011-12 she was the interim minister of Thoreau UU Congregation in Stafford, Texas, where she shepherded the congregation through a decision-making making change of becoming part of a multi-church ministry with the First Unitarian Church of Houston, Texas. She is completing a one-year interim at the Third Unitarian Church.
She graduated cum laude with a BS in Speech Communications from Lamar University and was initiated into the Senior Women’s Honor Society. Her post-baccalaureate study of pedagogy, English, journalism and communications focused on teaching. She was inducted to Kappa Delta Pi the national honor society of education. Before becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister, she worked in the corporate world in Houston, Texas. She has worked for several Fortune 100 companies in sales, marketing, and administration: Exxon Company, USA, IBM, Harris-Lanier, and CCH Computax.
Rev. Henley is more praxis than scholar, and takes the words of Margaret Fuller, a leader of the Transcendentalists of Boston, to heart. Fuller told her colleagues, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, and others, they needed to live transcendentalism, not just expound on it!