The Rev. Barrie E. Henke, who served as president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Oklahoma District from 2009 to 2022, died on March 1. He was 78.
Henke was born on Feb. 16, 1945, in Stillwater, Okla., the youngest child of Bernhardt Henke and Pauline (Montgomery) Henke. He grew up in Orlando, Okla., where his father owned and operated a Texaco station. Henke was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Orlando; attended Walther League at Zion Lutheran Church in Guthrie, Okla.; and, after the Orlando church closed in 1961, joined Christ Lutheran Church in Perry, Okla.
Henke graduated from Orlando High School in 1963. He earned an Associate of Arts from St. John’s College, Winfield, Kan., in 1967; a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minn., in 1969; and a Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Ill., in 1973. He served his vicarage at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and School in Downey, Calif., and was ordained on June 24, 1973, at Christ Lutheran Church, Perry, Okla. He married Patricia Gunderman on April 20, 1975.
Henke served the congregations of St. Peter Lutheran Church, Lakefield, Minn. (1973–1977); St. John Lutheran Church, Thief River Falls, Minn. (1977–1981); Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Onalaska, Wis. (1981–1991); and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Edmond, Okla. (from 1991 until his death).
During his years in Wisconsin, Henke served on the LCMS South Wisconsin District Board of Directors, Board of Evangelism and Board of Stewardship. In Oklahoma, he served as circuit counselor for the Oklahoma City circuit; chairman of the Oklahoma District convention; district counselor for the Oklahoma District Lutheran Women’s Missionary League; and as the district’s second vice-president. In 2009, he was elected district president. He was re-elected three times — in 2012, 2015 and 2018. He retired as district president in 2022 and was succeeded by the Rev. David R. Nehrenz of Norman, Okla., who was elected after the 2021 convention was postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan, president of the LCMS Missouri District and chairman of the Synod Council of Presidents, said, “For thirteen years, Barrie Henke was a valued and respected member on the Council of Presidents. Serving as district president was a role he undertook on a part-time basis and out of a sense of duty and dedication. However, he loved being a pastor and always demonstrated a great zeal for proclaiming God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. We are thankful for the ways in which God blessed many through President Henke’s faithful service.”
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison said, “Pastor Henke was uniquely gifted and a remarkable servant of Christ. He preached Christ Crucified. He also had an astoundingly wondrous sense of humor, and often brought us great joy even while dealing with particularly difficult issues. Thanks be to God.”
Patricia (Gunderman) Henke died on Jan. 21, 2009. President Henke is survived by his son, Jason; daughter-in-law, Nishia; and three grandchildren.
Visitation will be held Saturday, March 4, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Matthews Funeral Home, 601 S. Kelly Ave., Edmond, OK 73003. The family will be present from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A funeral service is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, March 5, at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 308 NW 164th St., Edmond, OK 73013. The service will be livestreamed at holytrinityedmond.org/watch-online.
For more information, see https://matthewsfuneralhome.com/barrie-e-henke.
Posted March 2, 2023/Updated March 7, 2023