Dr. Henry L. Porter is an encourager – an agent of success – an engineer of progress – a master of perception: he can see possibilities in others that they do not see in themselves. And, he has the power to help them achieve it – to become “towers of greatness”. Dr. Porter graduated valedictorian from Booker High School, earned his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Florida A. and M. University, Tallahassee. While an undergraduate scholar, he directed singing groups and was active in community and student affairs. He was president of the Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society and the Mathematics Club; Polemarch (president) of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; Student Dean of Academic Affairs (SGA); and, first student director of the Florida A. and M. (FAMU) Gospel Choir. At 21, after graduating with honors, he was awarded a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship, and immediately pursued the Doctor of Mathematics degree at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. In 1969, at God’s call, Dr. Porter returned to Sarasota to work with the local youths in Sarasota and Manatee counties. He founded the Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida, the premiere singing group for the Westcoast Centers. The chorus increased in numbers and purpose and, in 1971,God instructed him to start the Henry L. Porter Evangelistic Association, Incorporated, a non profit, 501(c)3 organization, of which he is the Chief Executive Officer. Continual growth broadened the scope of the organization, and in 1980, the Westcoast Center for Human Development and the Westcoast Center for World Evangelism were birth under the umbrella of the HLPEA, Inc.. The May, 1981, Cover Story of Charisma Magazine featured Dr. Porter: The Master’s Touch, How Henry Porter is helping Youth Reach Their Potential in Christ. At age 25, the chairman of the Mathematics Department invited him to return to his Alma Mater to serve on the faculty, making him one of the youngest faculty members at the university. While there, he established the Spiritual Growth and Enlightenment Prayer Groups, which rapidly expanded to the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of South Florida and New College. Dr. Porter’s international travels began in 1974 with missionary work in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1985, a Nigerian college invited him to participate in the graduation ceremonies. He took a large team to the country’s interior including Lagos, Port Hartcourt, Aba, Zaria, Kaduna and later to the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. Travels in 1987 took him to Singapore where he attended the Invitational Young leaders Conference (Lusanne Committee). In 1976, he married Cynthia E. Johnson, his partner and friend. They have three sons, Henry, Étienne Jaberly, and Zacchur Chalome; and, one daughter, Tsadok Hazel. He founded The Westcoast School For Human Development (1981, grades K-12) and served as the principal from 1981 to 2000. Westcoast School aired in the national CBS special, Street Stories, which highlighted the school’s unique approach to educating youth, featuring Mrs. Cynthia Porter. In 1999, the NAACP awarded its Freedom Award in Education to the Westcoast School for Human Development. In 1986, the United Bible College, Orlando, Florida, awarded him the Doctorate of Letters. In 1989, Trinity College, in conjunction with Honolulu University and Golden State University, awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree. The college established The Henry L. Porter School of Music in 1991. He was appointed by the Federal Republic of Nigeria to serve on the Senate Advisory Board on Education, 1992. He sits as visiting professor for Trinity College of Ministerial Arts, Aba, Nigeria. He founded the Westcoast Theological Seminary, and the Westcoast School for Human Development Foundation, Inc.
Bishop Porter has trained and ordained many ministers since 1971. He has consecrated graduates of Bible Colleges since 1985. As Presiding Prelate, he has served on boards to consecrate bishops since 1995. The list includes BISHOP KENNETH MOALES 1995 BISHOP JAMES HOWELL 1997 BISHOP DWIGHT D. PARRETT 2003 BISHOP E. MCDONALD WORTHAM, as Presiding Prelate 2003 Sarasota Magazine selected the Porters for the 1993 and Summer 2002 Editions: Sarasota 100, Most Powerful People in Sarasota (March 1993 and Summer 2002). The couple is also recorded in the official Video Archives of Sarasota. The national publication, Ebony Man Magazine , national publication, chose him, along with six other African-American men in the nation for its article, “How Black Men Are Giving Back to the Community” (April 1993). Dr. Porter is listed in “Who’s Who Among Black Americans”, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and African-American Good News (Gospel) Music. He has received numerous awards, including: commendation from Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, August 1999; Block of 4th Street in downtown Sarasota dedicated to Dr. Henry L. Porter in 2001, and the Governor’s Points of Light Award from Governor Jeb Bush in 2002. In December 2000, Dr. Porter and his group, The HLP Love Campaign®, which he formed in 1986, performed at the White House for the Holiday Festivities. He was inducted into the State of Florida Gospel Hall of Fame, June 27, 2003 (Florida Gospel Announcer’s Guild). April 14, 2004, Dr. Porter was inducted into the Sarasota Hall of Fame (Video Archives of the City of Sarasota). The Henry L. Porter Nursery and Primary School, Takum, Nigeria (named in his honor, 1991), has educated over 1000 students. In 1999, The Henry L. Porter Secondary School opened its doors. Other Westcoast Schools are in Miami and in Titusville. Dr. Porter has been a bishop since 1983. His brilliant voice lights the sky with gladness. His television show, The Love Campaign®, airing since 1986, can be seen in selected markets. Bishop Porter often appears on the nationally televised Bobby Jones Gospel, and has shared the stage with such great singers as Albertina Walker, Shirley Caesar, The Mighty Clouds of Joy and the late Cassietta George. He served as panelist for the national broadcast, “Let’s Talk Church” filmed in Las Vegas, 2002. While in Nairobi, Kenya, he ministered to an overflow crowd at the Kenyatta Conference Center. Later, he met and prayed with President Daniel Moi. In Zimbabwe, he and his Westcoast team were personal guests of Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, at his home. (The Honorable Mr. Nkomo is listed in the world’s encyclopedias as one of the chief exponents who fought for the liberation of Southern Africa from apartheid). Foreign nationals seek ways to use the “Westcoast” prototype for rescuing their youth. Rich results in Ghana ignited requests for Dr. Porter to open schools in the western region’s twin cities Takoradi and Sekondi. Leading a marriage seminar in Germany for people in the U.S. Army, Dr. Porter conducted a gospel concert with the all-German Nürnberger Gospelchor, and the army choir, (composed of service personnel stationed in Germany). He has led Leadership Conferences in Italy and in Africa; and, educational tours in France, England, and Germany. Dr. Porter had audience on three occasions with Pope John Paul, II at the Vatican in Rome. Other travels include Japan, Hong Kong, Greece, South Africa and Ethiopia. Dr. Porter has authored numerous books, including several books of poetry; and, is publisher of the Sword of the Spirit Newsletter, Black Action Magazine, Westcoast Magazine and HLP Records. Among his several recordings is seventeen albums including the latest “Keep Making Tracks” in national distribution, and available at Amazon.com, and CD Now.com (Music: Henry Porter). In 2003, The Gospel Awards established The Henry Porter Award, honoring Music that Does More Than Sound Award. In 2004, Andraé Crouch, the world-renown Gospel artist , also honored with Hollywood Star, received The Henry Porter Award. The Sarasota-Manatee Chapter of the United Negro College Fund, honored him, Feb 2, 2005. He has been a continuous member of the American Association of University Professors for more than 30 years. He is a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the Gospel Music Association. He is also a member of the Yale Club of Sarasota, the Ivy League Club, University Club, and is a Silver Life Member of the NAACP. He holds Life Membership in the Grand Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. Dr. Porter is Bishop and Presiding Prelate of the Westcoast Centers, with Global Headquarters in Sarasota, Florida. September, 2004, Dr. Porter was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Akron, Ohio.