Charles Barnes, Former Director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, Dies at 86

Laura and Charles Barnes (1963) Photo courtesy of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

Charles Barnes, who served as executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) from 1993 to 2000, died in his home on May 11. He was 86.

Born in Stonewall, Miss., he enjoyed gardening with his mother and playing high school sports. Before graduating high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and served briefly during the Korean War. Back home in Mississippi, he met and courted Laura Sue Thompson, and they married in 1953.

Rolling Creek Baptist Church in Mississippi called Barnes to his first pastorate, and there he and Laura started their family, welcoming children Sue and David. He attended Mississippi College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1961, Severna Park Baptist Church (SPBC), a young mission church in Maryland, called Barnes as their first full-time pastor. The church grew from 25 to 650 in nine years. It was at SPBC that Barnes found his passion for church education from the cradle to the grave, and for church growth.

Dave Brown, the current senior pastor of SPBC, said Barnes was a visionary. He recognized the Severna Park area as a “triangle of influence,” reaching Annapolis, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. The church’s triangular logo reflects that vision.

In 1970, Barnes began ministering with the BCM/D, serving as director of church programs and services. Barnes led mission trips to Burundi, Rwanda, and Moldova, as part of the BCM/D’s partnership missions emphasis.

“The Africa trip changed everything,” his daughter Sue Hannahs said.

Hannahs said her father became painfully aware of the relative wealth of America and how it made him uncomfortable considering the need so many people had for fresh water while his family had an in-ground swimming pool. The trip lit a fire in him, she said.

Carol Moore, Barnes’ longtime ministry assistant, agreed that the mission trip changed his life.

“He said that after he returned from that trip, it was difficult for him to enjoy a full meal,” Moore said. “The hungry children that he saw affected him deeply. He gave generously to world hunger and never missed an opportunity to encourage others to do the same. He believed and lived Matthew 25:40, ‘The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.'” (NIV)

Hannahs said Barnes was also heartbroken when the genocide happened in Rwanda in 1994. Many who died were people he knew from his trip.

He became BCM/D executive director in 1993 and continued the emphasis on partnership missions while leading the convention in relocating the BCM/D offices from Lutherville to the current Columbia location. He developed a “futuring” initiative — a strategic restructuring to prepare the convention to move into the new century.

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Source: Baptist Press