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Nearly 90 years old, this Virginia reverend continues to change lives

'I've learned from thousands,' Andrew Jackson White Sr. says
Nearly 90-years-old, pastor continues to change lives in the community
Posted at 10:17 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 16:35:35-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- At nearly 90-years-old, one Petersburg reverend is still going strong, preaching from the pulpit and changing lives.

"My name is Andrew Jackson White Senior."

White was born in 1932 in King and Queen County, Virginia, and said that he has had a life well-lived.

"God has blessed us immensely and we are thankful to be alive at our ages," White said.

His wife Gracie shares his same appreciation for the experiences they have had over time.

"That's been our lives, helping others, being there for people," Gracie Jeter White said.

The two have been married for 64 years.

Nearly 90-years-old, reverend continues to change lives in the community

By the time Andrew graduated from Virginia Union Seminary in 1956, he was a veteran preacher behind the pulpit.

"After one year, I was called to First Baptist Church of Heathsville at age 22," Andrew said.

By 1957, he and Gracie were married and in 1963, he was called to be a pastor at Zion Baptist Church in Petersburg.

He's stayed there for the past 48 years.

His commitment to serve others and the community would blossom over the years.

"We became our motto, the church that serves God and our community, that was our theme, that's what we tried to do," Andrew said.

At the same time, he would act as a pastor at a church in Prince George County as well for 40 years.

Nearly 90-years-old, reverend continues to change lives in the community

"I've seen many things, I've heard many sermons, I've been many places and I'm not here as an old lady," Gracie said.

While serving two churches over the decades, Reverend White served on countless boards, including the Hospital Authority, the Capital Campaign for Petersburg Library Foundation, Downtown Churches United, Appomattox Regional Governor's School and the Children's Home of Virginia Baptists.

"I have a passion for the Children's Home," Andrew said.

Even these days, he finds ways to try to find financial support for the home.

"How we can get some more support for the Children's Home. It's a wonderful place, done a fantastic job," Andrew said.

In the early 1960s, Reverend White would spend time with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and be the one to introduce him at was then Virginia State College on July 2, 1965.

"It was his anti-Vietnam speech," Andrew said.

Nearly 90-years-old, reverend continues to change lives in the community

Throughout the decades, his commitment to the community has earned him some unique recognition.

At Petersburg High School, the football stadium is named in his honor. At Gracie's Alma Mater, the Titmus Foundation donated $100,000 as a continuing scholarship at Virginia Union.

Looking back at his education, Andrew has an interesting perspective.

"I have officially been taught by 56 people from elementary school, high school, college, seminary. Fifty-six people. But I've learned from thousands."

Looking back at their years together, Gracie says that she is thankful for the experiences they have lived through together.

"We've seen a lot of things, we've done a lot of things. We haven't gone on a lot, of course, he was never taking many vacations, he's always here," Gracie said.

Andrew said that he wants those in his life to remember him for one particular thing.

"Somebody who loved people."

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