Pastors' Memoirs

Ira Vincent Mercer, 1935 - 1995

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Ira Vincent Mercer was born in Princess Anne County, Virginia, on February 27, 1935, the son of Vincent Elmo Mercer and Elsie Lee Tripp Mercer. He attended Courthouse Elementary and Middle Schools before graduating from Kempsville High School in 1954.

From 1957 to 1963 he served his country through the United States Army Signal Corps being stationed in both Korea and Japan. After receiving honorable discharge, he enrolled in 1964 at Louisburg College for the supply pastor’s program. In 1965, he transferred to Scarritt College in Nashville, Tennessee, where he graduated with a major in drama and religion. Later, he completed another year at Scarritt’s graduate school in an advanced study of Christian education.

From 1969 to 1973, Vincent was employed by the American National Red Cross as an assistant field director related to military installations. Through that position he served one year in Vietnam and also at Fort Dix, Fort Hamilton, Norfolk Naval Base and Little Creek Amphibious Base.

While attending Scarritt’s graduate school, Vincent formed a friendship with another student there, Shirley Ruth Strandberg from Sidney, Nebraska. They were married on April 11, 1971, and became proud parents of twins on June 15, 1972.

In 1973, Vincent responded to God’s call for ministry and was ordained an elder in the United Methodist Church after completing his Master of Divinity degree at Wesley Theological Seminary. He faithfully served various appointments within the Virginia conference for 22 years.

In June of 1995, Vincent and his family moved to the East Nottoway Charge in the Farmville District to begin what was to be his final phase of ministry. In a few short weeks he endeared himself in special ways with the laity of this charge. He frequently commented to them that he "had finally arrived home to be with the people he loved." However, on Sunday, August 27, 1995, God unexpectedly called His servant to his heavenly home.

It seems significant that Vincent’s final moment of life came as he was preparing once again to share his faith with a loving and receptive congregation.

A service celebrating his life and resurrection was held with an "overflow" congregation at Grace United Methodist Church of the East Nottoway Charge on Thursday evening, August 31. A graveside service followed on Friday with interment at Rosewood Memorial Gardens in Virginia Beach. Participants in the services were the Rev. Charles B. King, his district superintendent; Dr. Grady W. Powell, pastor of Gillfield Baptist Church of Petersburg; and Pastor Raymond Kauffman of Kempsville Mennonite Church in Virginia Beach.

He is survived by his wife, Shirley; a daughter, Ruth Leigh; a son, Vincent Richard; and his mother, Elsie T. Mercer. He was preceded in death by his father, Vincent Elmo Mercer, in 1971.

Ira Vincent Mercer "fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith." Thanks be to God for this good and faithful gift.

 — Charles B. King



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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