Pastors' Memoirs

Charles Lorraine Winfree, 1921-1994

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Charles Lorraine Winfree was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He was educated in the public schools of Richmond, Longwood College, the Divinity School of Duke University, Wesley Seminary, American University, and the Ecumenical Center at Yale University. Charles applied his education by making his life count for Christ and for the church he loved responding to the call to ordained ministry by serving with exemplary commitment and dedication. His love for our United Methodist Church and for all persons will always be a source of inspiration and a sterling example of faithful discipleship.

If any man could say that he was in love with his work, I believe that Charles could. He loved preaching and teaching. His long and illustrious service record tells of an active life spent in the highest dedication to the ordained ministry. He began his ministry serving churches in the Farmville District. Upon completing his seminary education, he served as an assistant minister at Clarendon United Methodist Church in Arlington, and then served 13 years as pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Fairfax. Under his leadership, the church grew from an original 157 members to a membership of over 1,000. He then served as pastor of Ghent United Methodist Church in Norfolk. Following that appointment, Charles was the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Martinsville.

In 1981, Charles was appointed district superintendent of the Farmville District. Upon retiring in 1986, he served as executive secretary of The Home Corporation. In addition to conference assignments, Charles served on the staff of Wesley Theological Seminary as a pastoral supervisor. He was certified by the General Board of Discipleship as a consultant in evangelism and church growth and by the Institute of Industrial and Commercial Ministries, Inc., as an industrial chaplain. He also served in many other capacities during a long, productive and distinguished ministry.

Charles shared a healthy and wholesome balance of faith, practicality, and reasonableness. The ability to weave life and faith into a single fabric resulted in an authentic, winsome, and compelling discipleship reaching many persons. He never judged other people. He always accepted others without compromising what he believed. He was always ready to share a laugh and lighten a burden. He knew God's grace in Christ and he preached it. His preaching was not confined to the pulpit, but evidenced at every step he took along life's way. Charles had the unique capacity to share his faith wherever he went. In retirement, Charles pressed on with a renewed sense of mission and purpose. He took computer courses, taught in the schools and church, worked on conference programs strengthening our local congregations and was active in church, touching many hearts along the way. Charles willingly spent his life in the mission of the church he loved, for the simple reason that the church is the body of Christ.

Charles loved his family, he loved people and he was committed to youth. He lived fully, and encouraged others to embrace life. He greeted death with inspiring dignity, grace and faith. He spent his life sharing God's Truth in Christ and now he has joined the church triumphant Charles made his life count for Christ and for Christ's Holy Church.

Charles is survived by his devoted wife, Mrs. Margaret Bridgers Winfree; two sons, Mr. Charles L Winfree Jr., and the Rev. W. Joseph Winfree; two daughters, Mrs. R.D. (Pattie) Munnikuysen, and Mrs. W.B. (Elizabeth) Trimble; five granddaughters, four grandsons, and one great-grandson.

We shall miss Charles, a dedicated pastor and good friend. We know he is safely home, far beyond the pall of time and place, secure in God's keeping, in infinite and glorious splendor, love, wonderment, perfect peace and life everlasting. "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

-Doug Gilfillan



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