Pastors' Memoirs

Charles Johnson Tilley, 1908-1988

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Charles Johnson Tilley was born January 10, 1908, in Durham, N.C., the only child of Charles J. and Mala Wilkins Tilley. He died March 17, 1988. But the meaning of a life cannot be contained between two dates on a tombstone. This was especially true of Charles Tilley whose intellect as well as his faith ranged the eternities.

Charles grew up in a good Christian home where he was nurtured in strong Methodist beliefs. After graduating from Duke University he was drawn west through family ties and continued his education at the University of Southern California, earning a master's degree. He taught history and political science for awhile at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, and then entered Stan- ford University to pursue a doctorate in expectation of continuing his teaching career. While at Stanford, in Charles' own words, "the Lord laid a mighty hand" on him with a call to full-time Christian service. In response to this call he left Stanford in 1941 and for one year served as a supply pastor in California.

Charles had a strong desire to go to India as a missionary, but at the urging of a cousin who was serving in the North Carolina conference, he came east instead, taking an appointment on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. He served North Carolina appointments for nine years. In 1957 Bishop Garber, then presiding over both North Carolina and Virginia, asked him to transfer to Virginia. Charles answered that he had "promised to go wherever needed," and moved to Virginia where he served faithfully until his retirement in 1974.

After moving to Virginia he married Miss Sandy Ann Hook who happily shared both his life and ministry and who now survives him. Charles was a kind, gentle man who loved his Lord and his church. He was a diligent and caring pastor and he loved to preach,

his sermons always bearing the mark of his biblical scholarship. In his later years a profound hearing loss forced curtailment of many of his activities, but his scholarly pursuits continued unabated. He was an active member of several learned societies in the field of biblical studies, attending meetings regularly throughout the years of his retirement and frequently presenting papers on his original research. His church and his ministry continued to be foremost in his thoughts until the end of his life. On the night before his death he said, "I hope I will be able to attend conference in June." And he will!

--William A. Wright Jr.

 

 

 

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