Cherry Blossoms

Minister Gerda "Verna" B. Henry

April 3, 1955 ~ September 27, 2019 (age 64)


Life in Perspective

Wife, Mother, Sister Friend

Proverbs 31:30 says "a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Truly this verse, and the entire chapter, captures the essence of Gerda B. "Verna" Henry, the bedrock of the Henry family for many decades.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." (v. 26-28)

Mom, Mommy, Grandma or just Verna (as she was affectionately called) was a caring and reliable provider for her family. As wife to Rev. Cecil Henry, she was devoted, faithful and supportive through thick and thin for over 47 years. As the biological mother of Stephanie, Stephen and Jeffery, she always ensured they had everything they needed and made it safely to school or wherever else they were going. She was quick-witted, and always delivered a word of advice, or the last word in a discussion, with a healthy dose of Jamaican spice. Just by speaking, she could arrest an errant child and give them a reason to rethink their current behavioral trajectory. And when that didn't work, she was not afraid to reach for the wooden spoon. She demonstrated these traits for her son Spencer, daughter Ebony and four grandchildren, working hard to ensure the next generation carried on the family legacy of love and excellence.
Over the years, Mom willingly opened her home to many young people and found that her "children" soon outnumbered the three she birthed, lasia, Karlene, Nadine, Addo, Stephen, Miles, Talia and many more filled the Henry home, especially during Youth Fellowship and Youth Choir rehearsals on Friday nights.
She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family (v. 15) What made young and old alike gravitate to Mom and the family home? Was it the delicious chicken wings, meatballs and other delicacies she cooked? Was it the famous Christmas cakes she baked, for which she soaked the fruits in wine and rum for months and refused to share the recipe? Was it the way she sang those soothing spiritual songs as she worked around the home? Was it the fun and openness with which she embraced life? Was it her candid, down to earth approach? Indeed, it was all of those things... and more!


She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (v.17).
To her friends and brethren at church, Sis. Gerda was a supporter, mentor, encourager, and a voice of reason who used her wisdom and experience to promote peace and unity. She displayed a calm spirit but knew how to be firm when necessary. Sister Henry, who was ordained as Minister on October 30, 2005, was not satisfied just being the beautiful wife and First Lady of Pastor Henry. While she saw it as her duty to support her husband in establishing Calvary Community Church in Brooklyn, she also served in the ministry, including sharing the Word, a song, or her life story with transparency and courage. Minister Gerda Henry served in the music ministry as Worship Leader and Choir Director for several years. Music was one of her passions and she always encouraged her team to aim for excellence and give all to God in melodious praise and worship. She loved to sing, whether solo, duet or with the choir. She was known for songs such as "Beulah Land", "God on the Mountain", "Where the Roses Never Fade", "Farther Along", "Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me", "He Knew Me, Yet He Loved Me" and "Going Home". Yet one of her favorite refrains was "O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee..." Minister Gerda had a heart for the youth and women and was firmly committed to providing strong role models. She was supportive of youth endeavors and outreach and was instrumental in establishing the Women's Ministry, aimed at empowering women spiritually, personally and professionally. The Women's Ministry grew under her guidance and encouragement.

Community Leader

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy, (v. 20)
Beyond the church, Minister Henry was actively involved in contributing to her community as a volunteer in various organizations for many years. She served as mentor, supporter or advisor for:
■ Calvary Community Church, where Gerda also served as Nursery Director for children from birth to 5 yrs. old.
■ Anchor House, a drug rehabilitation center for women.
■ Rachel's Joy, a support center for teenage mothers.
■ Father's Heart, a support group based out of Hell's Kitchen demonstrating the love of Christ in practical ways.
■ NY School of Urban Ministries, an organization that partners with schools and churches to improve the lives of the homeless and less fortunate.
■ Crown Heights Youth Initiative (CHYI), provides the underserved youth of Crown Heights access to mentors, leadership training and life coaching focused on academic achievement, independent thought, and social responsibility.
Note: During the next three months CHYI will be collecting donations in honor of Gerda Henry to further improve the lives of children in our community.
Minister Henry served with humility and a genuine love for people.

An Unparalleled Woman
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." (v. 29)
Gerda B. Henry lived a full life of love and service to God, her family and community. She will be dearly missed but will live on in the lives of her husband, children, grandchildren, extended family, friends, church family, and all those whose lives she touched.
Proverbs 31:30 says "a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Truly this verse, and the entire chapter, captures the essence of Gerda B. "Verna" Henry, the bedrock of the Henry family for many decades.

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Public Viewing
October 11, 2019

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Calvary Cathedral of Praise
45 East 8th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11218

Celebration of Life
October 11, 2019

7:00 PM
Calvary Cathedral of Praise
45 East 8th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11218

Prayer Service
October 12, 2019

8:30 AM
Calvary Community Church
1575 St. Johns Place
Brooklyn, New York 11233

Interment following Prayer Service

Pinelawn Memorial Park
2030 Wellwood Avenue
Farmingdale, New York 11735

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