Dr. Charles W. Conn, who served in the highest capacities of leadership in the Church of God, passed away on March 18. He was 88.
Charles Conn’s ministry spanned a wide spectrum of positions throughout his ministerial career. A native of Atlanta, Ga., Conn’s first denominational appointment was in Louisiana where he was the 20 year-old Sunday school and youth director for the state. Two years later he accepted his first church where he served as a pastor for six years at two Missouri churches , St. Joseph (1942-44) and Leadwood (1944-48). By 1948, Charles Conn had earned his ordination and the Church of God had recognized his emerging leadership by appointing him director of Sunday school and youth literature. Four years later, at the age of 32, he would be appointed editor-in-chief of all Church of Godpublications. For the next decade, Charles Conn’s integrity and respect as a church leader, author and historian would rise. In 1955 he released perhaps his most enduring legacy to the Church of God, Like A Mighty Army, the first comprehensive history of the Church of God. The publication would be the first of nearly two dozen titles Conn would pen throughout his career, including Pillars of Pentecost, Where the Saints Have trod, The Bible: Book of Books, A Guide to the Pentateuch, Acts of the Apostles, Why Men Go back, Cradle of Pentecost, the Pointed Pen and Anatomy of Evil.
In 1962 Dr. Conn was elected assistant general overseer on the Church of God Executive Committee, the denomination’s highest governing body. He would serve eight years on the Committee, rising in 1966 to the office of General Overseer, the highest role of leadership within the Church of God. During his tenure from 1966-70 the church of God would grow around the world and a new general offices building would be dedicated at the current site of the international offices in Cleveland, Tennessee. During his years on the Executive Committee he represented the Church of God in several interdenominational capacities such as the executive committee of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, the presidium of the Pentecostal World Conference and the board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals.
In 1970, General Overseer Conn became President Conn when he accepted the presidency of theChurch of God’s flagship educational institution, Lee College. His leadership over the next twelve years would be marked by a time of unprecedented growth and advancement, both in student enrollment and standing in the academic community. New enrollment records were set during his tenure and a new 1,800 seat auditorium – the Conn Center – was constructed.
From 1982-84, Charles Conn would serve for two years as state overseer for the Church of God inVirginia. In years to follow he would devote his time to Church of God history as the official Historian for the Church of God. He would lead the Historical Commission and serve as a valuable resource of knowledge and history of the Church of God.
During his appointed and elected positions throughout his life, Conn received numerous recognitions, honors and awards and served on boards and ministries. Including his service on the Executive Committee and excluding the years off due to tenure limitation, Dr. Conn served for 30 years on theChurch of God Executive Council, from 1952-1990. He was a member of the National Radio and Television Board (1962-64), director of Ministry to the Military (1962-66), member of the national Layman’s Board (1964-66) and the Centennial Commission (1980-86). He is the recipient of the Doctor of Letters degree from Lee University (1962) and a Doctor of Divinity from Berea TheologicalCollege in South Africa (1977).
In addition to an honorary doctorate, Charles Conn’s alma mater Lee University has honored him in various ways over the years. In 1960 he was the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. A Charles W. Conn scholarship was endowed for needy students by the Collegiate Sertoma Club . The annual Charles W. Conn Leadership Award and scholarship was established several years ago and the Lee board of directors bestowed the title President Emeritus in 1999.
First and foremost in the life of Charles W. Conn was his wife Edna, who passed away in 1997, and their twelve children Philip, Sara, Stephen, Paul, Sharon, Raymond, Camilla, Mark, Cathy, Bruce, Jeffrey and Melody.
The family will receive friends on Friday, March 21, 2008 at Ralph Buckner Funeral Home, 4:00-7:00 pm. The funeral will be Saturday, March 22, 10:00 am. (location to be determined).
Please continue to keep the Conn family in your prayers.