By Kara Witherow, Editor
Rev. Henry Erwin’s Methodist roots run deep.
He’s the 17th Methodist minister in a family that traces their faith heritage all the way back to Francis Asbury.
“The first (pastor) in our family was ordained by Francis Asbury, the first Methodist bishop in the New World,” said Angela Mobley, one of Rev. Erwin’s daughters.
Rev. Erwin’s father and uncle were both Methodist ministers, so it was no shock when, as a teenager, Rev. Erwin felt the call to ministry.
“Daddy has just always had God in his heart,” said daughter Michele Erwin. “I think when he was probably 16 the Lord started tugging on him, and when he was about 18 he gave up and said okay.”
In the years that followed, Rev. Erwin received an associate’s degree from Young Harris College, served with the Merchant Marine during World War II, graduated from Georgia Southern University, and, at 22, joined the South Georgia Conference. Along the way, he married Lila Skinner and the couple had five daughters.
In a life full of milestones and achievements, on May 2, Rev. Erwin – the oldest living pastor in the Conference – marked another big one by celebrating his 100th birthday.
His caregivers at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home in Augusta marked the special occasion with a party, balloons, cake, and ice cream. Rev. Erwin was also able to celebrate with his daughters via Zoom.
“It was great,” said Michele Erwin, who had cared for her father for the past 10 years until a bad fall necessitated the move to the nursing home. “He had a big day. He enjoyed it.”
In a pastoral ministry career that spanned nearly five decades, Rev. Erwin, known throughout the Conference for his love of the outdoors, mentored hundreds of young people and camp leaders.
“He was a great leader in camping,” said Rev. Dave Hanson, who hiked the Appalachian Trail and canoed the Suwannee River and Okefenokee Swamp with Rev. Erwin. “He mentored many, many people in the outdoors and in working with young people.”
An avid outdoorsman, fisherman, and woodworker, Rev. Erwin was a skilled craftsman who built furniture and made bowls, plant stands, lamps, candlesticks, and more on his lathe.
Rev. Jim Rush has known Rev. Erwin since 1964. He fondly remembers Rev. Erwin as a superb pastor and the best
fisherman he’s ever known.
“He really loves the Lord, the Church, his family, and his country,” said Rev. Rush, who served as Rev. Erwin’s superintendent while in the Statesboro District. “He and Lila have such a legacy in the Methodist Church.”
For Rev. Erwin’s daughters and family, his 100-year legacy is one of love, kindness, and deep faith.
“Daddy walked the talk. Daddy was the same man at home as he was in the pulpit,” Mobley said. “Daddy is an incredible soul. He’s been an unsung hero in a lot of instances. His is an exemplary life. He was a wonderful husband and is a wonderful father and he’s a wonderful friend and minister. Daddy’s never, ever, ever lost sight of his love of God.”