The Reverend Doctor James Walter Ferree, Sr. was born in Randleman, North Carolina on June 14, 1927. He grew in ministry at an early age as a member of Ferree's Chapel Methodist Church in Randleman. He attended grade school in Randleman and graduated from Central High School in Asheboro, North Carolina. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Livingstone College, Salisbury, North Carolina and Master of Divinity Degree from Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina. Further study was done at Union Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. He received an honorary Doctorate from High Point University, High Point, North Carolina on May 10, 1987.
Dr. Ferree actively served in the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church for 46 years. He pastored several churches from 1949-1965. He served as District Superintendent for the Eastern District of The North Carolina -Virginia Conference of The Methodist Church from 1965-1968. Dr. Ferree pastored the Union Memorial United Methodist Church, 1968-1969. He served as an Associate Program Director of the Conference on Ministries of the Western North Carolina Conference with headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, from 1969-1974.
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. Following that appointment, Dr. Ferree was appointed as District Superintendent of the Winston-Salem District, June 1988 and retired June 1995. During his retirement, he served as Director of Ethnic Church Development for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church from 1997-1998. Dr. Ferree came out of retirement to serve as pastor of Simpson-Gillespie United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina from July 1999-June 2000.
Serving in various positions at all levels of the United Methodist Church, Dr. Ferree 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.
Dr. Ferree has given generously his time and talents to The North Carolina Council of Churches. He served as Treasurer and Chairperson of the Finance Committee and held other offices and leadership positions within the Council. He was an important link between the Council and the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.
On April 19, 1994, The North Carolina Council of Church awarded Dr. Ferree the Distinguished Service Award, which signifies outstanding contributions to the cause of ecumenism in the state of North Carolina.
During his career with the United Methodist Church, he served as a member of the General Board of Church and Society, a member of the Lake Junaluska Board of Trustees, and a member of the Pfeiffer College Board of Trustees, 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.
Dr. Ferree served on the Board of Directors for many organizations:
• Chairman of Leaders for Reconciliation of Winston--Salem, NC
• Board of Directors for the Downtown Church Center in Winston-Salem, NC
• Board of Directors for the Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina
• Secretary of the board of Directors of Smart Start in Winston-Salem, NC
• The United Campus Ministry (former president) which served Winston-Salem State University, A & T State University and the Bethlehem Community Center of Winston-Salem, NC (former president)
• The Children's Home of Winston-Salem, NC
• The 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 chaired the committee on Recruiting Young People for Ministry
For many years, Dr. Ferree enjoyed serving as a volunteer for Senior Services, Meals on Wheels, volunteer Chaplain at Forsyth Hospital in Winston-Salem, and volunteer at the Piedmont International Airport, hosting the ·information desk.
In February 2012, the Board of Directors at Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community named one of the wings in the newest assistant living building, Asbury Place, The Rev. Dr. James W. Ferree wing. Also in 2012 he was the recipient of the Bishop James Walker Hood Donor Recognition Award presented by Hood Theological Seminary. In 2013 he received the Human Rights Award from Church Women United for his leadership and activism in human rights. In 2017, Dr. Ferree was awarded the 2017 HBCU Living Legends Award representing Livingstone College and the Hood Theological Seminary National Alumni Award.
He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and was 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, Inc.
Dr. Ferree was preceded in death by Nancy Moore Ferree and is survived by son, James W. Ferree, Jr; daughter, Jaffee Ferree White (Dr. Darryl K.); three grandchildren, James W. Ferree, Ill (Shannon), Sierra Ashe (Phil), Nia White and one great grandchild, Jordyn Ashe.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM, on Friday, March 29, 2019 at Centenary United Methodist Church with the Rev. Donald Jenkins officiating. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will follow at Guilford Memorial Park.