VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/2/21)—Rev. Charles D. Mercer died on Monday, October 25. Mercer, along with his wife Marie Mercer, were named as 2019 co-recipients of the Cora and John Sparrowk President’s Award, presented to them on behalf of the Board of General Ministries at the American Baptist Churches USA Biennial Mission Summit in Virginia Beach, Va.
The Sparrowk President’s Award is presented to American Baptist recipient(s), who have over a period of years made an exceptional and outstanding contribution to the life of Christ’s Church and who in life and service manifests richly the fruits and gifts of the Spirit. Mercer is survived by his wife and co-recipient, Marie. In their years of marriage, Charles and Marie served together in a number of states and countries, eventually settling in Reston, Va.
Mercer was also presented the 2020 Distinguished Alumni/ae Award from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS) in a service on October 9, 2020. Since 1996, the award has honored a distinguished alumna or alumnus whose service to God, the church, CRCDS and his or her community is distinguished and worthy of accolade. The award is an annual opportunity for CRCDS to honor its own graduates whose professional contributions to the ministry warrant special recognition. Mercer was a 1955 graduate of CRCDS.
Charles grew up in Providence, R.I. where his father was pastor of the Fourth Baptist Church. He was baptized and ordained at Fourth Baptist, and graduated from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., in 1952 with majors in Psychology and Sociology. He attended Colgate Rochester Divinity School, and while in seminary met Marie, a field work student at Union Seminary. After their marriage they were called as missionaries to serve in the former Yugoslavia, where they established relationships with protestant churches.
Upon return to the U.S. they were called to the Neighborhood Baptist Church in Dearborn, Mich, a church sponsored by ABHMS in a working-class area and served people who had emigrated from the South during WW II because factory jobs were abundant. The Mercers then joined Metropolitan Associates of Philadelphia, an ecumenical project of the Division of Evangelism, which sought to relate the church to the needs of the city.
Mercer served at the First Baptist Church of Troy, N.Y., and also served in Valley Stream, N.Y. During that time, he was a member of the first delegation of American Baptists to visit Baptist Churches in Russia, sponsored by the Baptist Peace Fellowship in 1983, to develop discussions between Orthodox and Protestant churches. He codirected a follow-up group in 1985, visiting churches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Alma Ata, Tashkent, and other cities.
He later moved to Olivet Baptist Church on Long Island, N.Y., was a member of the American Baptist Churches of Metro New York Board, and was active in Christian Associates for Relationships with Eastern Europe (CAREE).
After retiring, Mercer served several churches through the Interim Ministries Program, and served two assignments to Russia where the Mercers served as the pastoral team for the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy. After his last Interim, the Mercers moved to Reston, Va., where they have been active members of the Washington Plaza Baptist Church.
Rev. Mercer leaves behind his wife, Marie; children, Patricia Mercer Hernandez, Kathy Mercer Bayliss, Stephen Mercer, John Mercer, and Matthew Mercer; along with 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
A Memorial Service will be held at Washington Plaza Baptist Church (1615 Washington Plaza N, Reston, VA 20190) on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 1:00pm.
Gifts in Memory
Donations in memory of Rev. Mercer can be made to American Baptist Churches USA through which Rev. Mercer dedicated his ministry, serving through the American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), International Ministries (IM), Interim Ministries (now Transition Ministries, part of the Office of the General Secretary), and as an Ambassador for the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB) – through all, working to transform communities, our nation and our world. (www.abc-usa.org)
Donations in memory can also be made to the local congregation where he has been a member, Washington Plaza Baptist Church (WPBC) here. Also a passion of his has been the church with whom WPBC has a sister church relationship, Agape Baptist in Hakha, Myanmar under the leadership of Pastor Za Khar.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.