Pastors' Memoirs

Herbert Somerville Southgate, 1901 - 1995

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  Herbert Somerville Southgate was born in Norfolk, Virginia, April 21, 1901, to Thomas S. and Nettie N. Southgate. After attending the public schools of Norfolk he graduated from Virginia Military Academy and then served as superintendent of Southgate Marine Corporation.

  After several years he accepted the fact that he was called by God to the ministry and entered Candler Theological Seminary at Emory University. Integrity, ability. . . used to the limit for God, and dedication, best describe Herbert Southgate. After graduation he was appointed to Bassett Virginia Methodist Church. While there his health failed and he became inactive for several years. Later he was able to accept an active role as pastor in the Virginia conference where he made quite a contribution to God’s work as pastor of a number of churches, was conference secretary of missions, superintendent of Roanoke District and was a delegate to the General Conference.

  He married Isobel F. Southgate, daughter of W.G. and Faye Miller Fletcher. They had one son, Herbert Fletcher Southgate.

  Randolph-Macon Men’s College, where he had served as pastor, gave him an honorary Doctor’s degree. His father-in-law, himself a Methodist minister, commented to his daughter, "Herbert’s prayers are gems." Another time, "I have never known a minister to be so beloved by his people." All his pastorates grew in spirit, activity, and numbers. His work was always given an innovative touch. His members realized and appreciated this.

  During his years in the active ministry, Mr. Southgate was particularly concerned with religious facilities for young people. While serving his pastorate in Falls Church, he was responsible for the erection of the youth activities building at Dulin Church. Under his leadership in Alexandria, an educational wing was added to Trinity Church.

  As district superintendent for Roanoke, he directed the purchase of a resort hotel in Crockett Springs near Shawsville, Virginia, and its conversion into a youth camp for the Roanoke District. His work for the Roanoke District was primarily notable for the emphasis he placed upon evangelism. One year during his term of service, the Roanoke District was one of 10 districts in Methodism that had a new gain of 1,000 new members for the year.

  In 1960, by appointment of Bishop Paul N. Garber, he became a member of the Board of Trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. There, he served as a member of the staff, director of Church Relations, promoter of the Scroll Program, and as treasurer and vice president. The organization sent him on a mission around the world to investigate worldwide conditions of church and state relations. Highly honored by that organization, he retired in 1970, but continued in his efforts on behalf of the organization.

  His final contribution was a well-written and documented book, The Glory and the Infamy which he had published and released in 1986. He held membership in the following: The Jamestown Society; listed in Who’s Who of Methodism, Virginians of Distinction, National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Kappa Alpha, Kiwanis Club, Rotary, Ruritan, president of Alexandria Virginia Council of Churches. He contributed to various journals and authored The Glory and the Infamy.

  It may truly be said of him, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

— Isobel F. And Herbert F. Southgate



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