Jimmy was the third child of six born to William Archer and Odessa Floyd McKenzie. The second child, who was the first-born son, died at the age of six, making Jimmy the oldest male child in the family.
Due to the war and the economy of the region in the early 40s, the McKenzies moved several times during the first few years of Jimmy’s life. When he was six, the family settled in a rural community directly across from the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Barrineau, South Carolina. That congregation and the people of the community had a profound and lasting influence on his life. His faith, values, and fundamental foundations were established through what is seen now as Divine Providence as he grew into adulthood.
Jimmy’s father farmed and managed a country grocery and general store. He also conducted a meat curing and processing business to serve the rural community and provide for his own family during the winter months. His father’s resourcefulness taught Jimmy at a young age that hard work and responsibility are virtues to be emulated. That work ethic followed him throughout his life.
In the summer, following his graduation from high school, Jimmy found employment with the Winn Dixie grocery chain. Sometime later, he began a career in life insurance sales and sales management that lasted 20 years.
While still in his teens, Jimmy met Violet Ruth Prosser at a local skating rink for young people. A date or two and the senior prom led to a relationship that bonded the two together for life. They were married on April 29, 1961, in Lake City, South Carolina. The couple has two children: Pamela Rose McCutcheon and James W. McKenzie, Jr.
Jimmy accepted Christ as his Savior on May 2, 1965, in the Lake City Pentecostal Holiness Church. He describes his call to the ministry as more of a sequence of events, rather than a one-time experience. “I simply responded to invitations to do ministry when opportunities arose.”
That willingness to respond shaped Jimmy’s life motto: “Do as much as you can, for as many as you can, for as long as you can.” That lifestyle of service placed Jimmy McKenzie in positions of leadership he never dreamed possible. He began by serving as a layman in the Lake City Pentecostal Holiness Church for 15 years. But when invitations came for him to speak at various churches and groups, Jimmy accepted. Soon he was preaching revivals.
At the age of 40, Jimmy resigned his secular job and began pastoring full-time at BibleTemple in Coward, South Carolina. He remained there for nine years, during which time, the church grew numerically and financially. In 1989, he returned to his home church of Barrineauand pastored there for the next eight years.
Jimmy served the South Carolina Conference as Board member for four years (1994-1998), Assistant Conference Superintendent for eight years (1998-2006), director of Evangelism/World Missions for eight years (1998-2006), and, finally, as Conference Bishop for four years (2006-2010). Besides serving on the General Council of Bishops during his tenure as the SC Conference Bishop, he was also a member of the General World Missions Council for 12 years (1998-2010), the Emmanuel College Board of Regents two years (2006-2008), and the Falcon Children’s Home Executive Board for four years (2006-2010).
Jimmy McKenzie retired from full-time ministry in 2010; however, he continued to respond to opportunities that arise. In an article printed in a book published in 2010, relating the history of the South Carolina Conference for its Centennial Celebration, Jimmy is described as “a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ with an emphasis on evangelism. His heart is to win souls for the Kingdom. He is a ‘grace’ preacher whose love for his fellowman is evident as he reaches out in compassion and encouragement to those who are lost or defeated.”
Presiding Bishop Doug Beacham remembers Rev. Jimmy McKenzie as a good man with a large heart for people. “I had an immense pleasure of working with him when he served on the World Missions Council of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church,” he said. “He was dedicated to the cause of Christ as expressed through IPHC missionaries. Our prayers are with his dear wife Violet and their family.”
James William McKenzie was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers: Sonny and Tony McKenzie. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Violet Prosser McKenzie; daughter, Pamela (Richie) McCutcheon of Lake City; son, James (Karla) McKenzie of Richmond Hill, Georgia; grandchildren, Wes (Morgan) McCutcheon, Will (Jeffre) McCutcheon, Mac (Bailee) McKenzie, Keith McKenzie (Lauren Humphries), Zane McKenzie and Lance McKenzie; 5 great-grandchildren; sisters, Bobbie (James) Goude of Lake City and Kay (Dave) Blue of North Carolina; brother, Larry (Dale) McKenzie of Lake City.