Fletcher is Mitchell Award winner
When he reached a point in life when most men would retire, the Rev. Carles Fletcher continued to follow God’s calling and returned to a church.
At 77, Fletcher continues to minister after nearly half a century of service to the Lord.
For his leadership and commitment, Fletcher received the Virgil A. Mitchell Excellence in Pastoral Ministry award. The Mitchell Award was presented during Southern Wesleyan University’s annual Southern Area Ministers’ Conference in Central.
Dr. David Spittal, president of Southern Wesleyan University, commended Fletcher for his ministry and having a heart for God.
“He has been recognized as a true shepherd of his people, a mentor of young pastors and a builder of churches,” Spittal said.
As a young minister, Fletcher planted churches in Ohio and Indiana. What started as a storefront church in Elyria, Ohio, with little more than a dozen people grew after 12 years into a congregation whose attendance surpassed 200. From there, Fletcher went to Coshocton, Ohio, to pastor for four years, building and upgrading facilities for the local church.
Fletcher then became pastor of Westview Wesleyan Church in Jonesboro, Ind., where he served another 12 years. During that period, Westview Church grew from attendance of a little more than 70 to an average of 300. Also while at Westview, Fletcher had the opportunity to mentor and train many of the leading pastors of the largest Wesleyan churches.
Fletcher went on to serve as district superintendent of the Pacific Southwest District, which included Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. He then became district superintendent over Texas for two years. Feeling a call back to his love, the local church, Fletcher spent a decade pastoring a church in Burnips, Mich., then came south to plant a church in Cartersville, Ga. Spittal said that Fletcher started the church with no resources but a heart for God. At Cartersville, the church went from meeting in their basement in 1999 to a 9,800-square-foot facility in 2004.
Fletcher currently serves on the board of administrators with the South Coastal District. He has committed his life to mentoring future leaders for The Wesleyan Church. He meets with community leaders for a weekly Bible study.
“I am so very grateful for the opportunity of being in the service of God,” said Fletcher. “I am indeed so grateful to the university and to the Mitchells and to my dear wife with whom I have been living for 56 years.”
The purpose of the Virgil A. Mitchell Excellence in Pastoral Ministry Award is to encourage excellence in ministry, enhance the importance of pastoral ministry, to recognize service to the church and support of Southern Wesleyan University, to emphasize the value of ministerial training offered at Southern Wesleyan University and most of all to exalt the greatest preacher of them all – the Lord Jesus Christ.
The award includes a plaque presented by Mary Mitchell, a monetary gift and first consideration for eligibility for the Virgil and Mary Mitchell Scholarship to a ministerial student attending Southern Wesleyan and attending the recipient’s church.
Virgil Mitchell was born on a farm in Six Mile in 1914 and was the second of nine children. He graduated from Six Mile High School in 1934, where he was voted “the most studious, courteous and talented” boy in the class.
He attended junior college at Central Wesleyan College, now named Southern Wesleyan University, and completed his degree in 1937 and went on to complete his Th.B. degree in 1943.
He began his ministry in 1934 and served as pastor and General Secretary of Extension and Evangelism. Mitchell was later elected as president of Southern Wesleyan University in 1968, but was elected general superintendent of the Wesleyan Church before he could take office. He served as general superintendent, the denomination’s highest office, for 21 years.
After his retirement in 1984 at age 70, Mitchell was appointed as assistant to the president and chaplain of Southern Wesleyan and served in this capacity until 1994. He also served as a distinguished member of the Southern Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and designated as the first trustee emeritus in 1984.
Mitchell was named Southern Wesleyan University’s Alumnus of the Century at a ceremony in May of 2006.