Year graduated: 1952
College Major: Religious Education
Life Work: Clergy
Most Memorable Experience while at Livingstone: At my 1952 commencement, speaker Dr. Mordecai Johnson spoke for ninety minutes in ninety-degree weather without air conditioning.
James Walter Ferree was born in Randleman, North Carolina. He graduated from Central High School in Asheboro, North Carolina, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Livingstone College and a Master of Divinity Degree from Hood Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina. Further study was done at Union Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. On May 10, 1987 he received an honorary Doctorate Degree from High Point University, High Point, North Carolina.
Before retiring, he actively served in the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church for 46 years. He has served as District Superintendent for the Eastern District of The North Carolina – Virginia Conference of The Methodist Church from 1965–1968. From 1969-1974, he served as an Associate Program Director of the Conference on Ministries of the Western North Carolina Conference with headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
After serving as pastor of St. Matthews United Methodist Church, Greensboro, North Carolina for five years, Dr. Ferree was appointed as District Superintendent of the Gastonia District (1979-1984), In June 1984, he was appointed as Director of Conference Council on Ministries. In June 1988, Dr. Ferree was appointed as District Superintendent of the Winston-Salem District. From this position he retired in June 1995. He was then asked to serve as Director of Ethnic Church Development for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church from 1997-1998. Dr. Ferree was again asked to come out of retirement to serve as pastor of Simpson-Gillespie Church in Charlotte, North Carolina from July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2000.
Dr. Ferree has held various positions at all levels of the church. He served as President of The North Carolina Council of Churches from 1980-1983. His long and distinguished career has included a deep commitment and involvement in the cause of Christian unity, social justice, and peace.
Specifically, he has given generously of his time and talent to The North Carolina Council of Churches. He was later Treasurer and Chairperson of the Finance Committee. He also served in other offices and leadership positions within the Council. Very few people have provided such strong and able leadership and support over a long period of time to The North Carolina Council of Churches. And, of course he has been an important link between the Council and the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. The North Carolina Council selected The Reverend Dr. Ferree to be the recipient of the 1994 Distinguished Service Award and presented it to him at a meeting of the Council’s House of Delegates on April 19, 1994, at the Highland United Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. The award signifies outstanding contributions to the cause of ecumenism in the state of North Carolina.
He has served as a member of the General Board of Church and Society from 1980-1988 with headquarters in Washington, DC. He has served on the Board of Trustees at Lake Junaluska and served on the Board of Trustees at Pheiffer College. Dr. Ferree served as a delegate to the 1967 Special Jurisdictional Conference and as a delegate to the 1968, 1972, 1984, 1988 and the 1992 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
He has served as chairman of Leaders for Reconciliation of Winston-Salem; he was a member of the Board of Directors for the Downtown Church Center in Winston-Salem, a member of the Board of Directors for the Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina from 1990-1996, and secretary of the Board of Directors of Smart Start in Winston-Salem. In 2013 he received the Human Rights Award from Church Women United.
Dr. Ferree continues to serve on the Board of Directors for many organizations: The United Campus Ministry (former president) which serves Winston-Salem State and A & T State Universities, Bethlehem Community Center of Winston-Salem, NC (former president), The Children’s Home, Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community (former Chairman of Admissions Committee), North Carolina Council of Churches (former president), the Western North Carolina caucus of Black Methodists for Church Renewal (former president) where he now chairs the committee on Recruiting Young People for Ministry, and as a volunteer Chaplain at Forsyth Hospital in Winston-Salem. He also continues to volunteer for Senior Services, Meal on Wheels and mans the information desk at Piedmont International Airport. He serves as guest speaker and fills in for local pastors in pulpits.
Dr. Ferree was honored recently, February 2012, by having a wing named for him at the newest assistant living building, Asbury Place, at Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community. Also in 2012 he was the recipient of the Bishop James Walker Hood Donor Recognition Award presented by Hood Seminary. In 2013 he received the Human Right Award from Church Women United for his leadership and activism in human rights.
He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and has been named “Man of the Year” by both the Charlotte and Winston-Salem Chapters. In 2013 he was presented with the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Pan-Hellenic Community service Award in appreciation of his commitment, dedication, and loyal service to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and the communities of Winston-Salem. In 2013 he was the recipient of the Pan Hellenic Council’s Community Service Award for service to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.
Dr. Ferree has his charge conference, and teaches Sunday School at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem.
Dr. Ferree is married to the former Doris Humphrey Davenport. He has a son, James Ferree, Jr. a daughter, Jaffee White, a stepdaughter, Kimberly Davenport-Jackson and four grandchildren and one great grandchild.