One would have to spend only a few minutes with Rev. Charlie Candler (‘38) to feel his love of the Lord and of mankind, and his complete faith and trust in the Lord’s ability to supply our needs.
I was blessed a few weeks ago to visit with Rev. Candler in order to compile a story about his years spent as a minister. I came away felling honored to be a part of the staff at North Greenville College because of the commitment this institution has made to Christian education and seeing firsthand what it has meant to the ministry of Rev. Charlie Candler.
Charlie Chandler felt the call of the Lord in 1933, at the age of 33. He left a secure job, uprooted his family, wife Lorene, and three children and moved from Lockhart to Tigerville, SC to enroll at North Greenville Baptist Academy (NGBA). He had little formal education and he felt the Academy would meet his needs.
Rev. Candler recalls that many people told him he was a foolish man to leave his job and financial security with no means of support for his family during the Great Depression.
He recounts the story of his arrival at Tigerville. Feeling led by the Lord to get closer to the campus, he gave up the house he had rented next to Tyger Baptist Church. Having no automobile, it would mean that he would have to walk several miles to and from classes each day. After giving up his house, he prayed that the Lord would provide suitable housing for his family. The next morning, with his furniture already on the way, an apartment across the street from the college was made available to him by Mr. Bud Wood and offered “rent free” while he attended classes at NGBA. Having very little money, he and his family were delighted to find a generous pantry pounding on the truck that came from Lockhart with his furniture, provided by friends and family from their hometown. This was the beginning of the many blessings the Lord made available to him as he struggled to support his family and continue his education.
He was called to his first church while at NGBA – Pleasant View Baptist Church. He said that he accepted this pastorate realizing that he would have a 15 mile walk, but being led by the Lord he felt that this was what he should do. He recalls how another prayer was answered as on the Friday prior to the Sunday he was to being preaching at Pleasant View, he received a check from a generous benefactor (known to him as Mother James, a member of Taylors First Baptist) to buy an automobile. With the much needed transportation, he accepted the call to pastor Mount Olive Baptist in Ware Shoals and did alternate services for these two churches.
Part of the time that he attended NGBA, he and his family lived in the “Preachers Hotel.” This was a large house in the Tigerville area for ministerial students who were married with families. They shared this home with three other couples. He remembers how they shared the hard times and cooked together, cared for each other’s children and as he tells it, “With faith, the Lord always met our needs.”
Rev. Candler talks of working along beside Dr. Donnan in helping to process corn that had been grown on the grounds of NGBA. He expected to be paid ten cents per hour, but at the end of the semester when he received payment, he was paid twenty cents per hour because Dr. Donnan said he had worked so hard. He spoke of how much this money helped him in supporting his family and showing him that the Lord would provide if he would place his faith in Him. He states that Dr. Donnan was a quiet man who had a positive influence on his life.
Rev. Candler speaks of the many teachers at North Greenville who made a difference in his life. Miss Harlee Cooper, his English teacher, who spent countless hours in helping him to catch up with the other students with his reading and writing. Ms. Myrtle Littlejohn, his history teacher, as a difficult taskmaster, who insisted that each student give their all, and Fess Blackwell, his math teacher, who was always so supportive. Dr. J.E. Barton, his biology teacher, who when teaching biology kept the Bible nearby as he would refer to the Bible in class when he felt the textbook was contradicting the word of God.
Rev. Candler was again blessed with the generosity of Mother James as he enrolled in classes at Furman University. She called him to her home and as they sat on her porch, she recalled how she had prayed the day before about him and the Lord had made it clear that she should provide his tuition so that he could continue his education. As it turned out, he and his wife had been praying at the same time that the Lord would provide a way for him to continue his education and be better prepared to serve.
Rev. Candler has spent his life seeking to share God’s love in any way he could or knew how. He served as pastor at Park Street Baptist in Easley for four years, five years at Siloam Baptist in the Easley area, fourteen years at White Street Baptist in Rock Hill, eight years at Hopewell Baptist in Seneca and after retiring has served 23 Baptist churches as interim pastor. Failing eyesight prevents him from reading and continuing his preaching.
His wife, Lorene, died in 1985. He has four children: Jack Candler of Piedmont, Ruth Wilson of Piedmont, Paul Candler of Easley, and Martha Boling of Taylors. Rev. Candler has been a resident of Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center in Laurens for four years and continues to live by these word of the Lord:
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are hones, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
As our visit concluded and I prepared to leave, Rev. Candler continued to ask me about the anticipated enrollment for the fall and the ministerial students at North Greenville. I relayed to him that we have quite a few ministerial students who are struggling to manage attending classes, studying, working, ministering to their congregations and finding time for their families. As I spoke these words, I thought, some things never change. It is through these same struggles the students today establish the foundation to become a good “servant of the Lord.”
Story by Beverly Carlton and published in the September 1992 North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.