They called him “RED!” When he was born on August 25, 1909 in New Brockton, Ala., his parents gave him the name of “Charles Henry Hildreth,” but among Methodists of the Alabama-West Florida Conference for over half a century, he was affectionately known as “Red.” When “Red” was a teenage boy attending New Brockton High School, he fell in love with Jesus Christ and the church and became an ordained minister. With a heart aflame with the good news of Jesus Christ and a strong desire to serve wherever he was appointed, Red served churches all across this Conference–Bolling, Plantersville, Fort Deposit, Opp, Lafayette Street in Dothan, Gadsden Street in Pensacola, Capitol Heights in Montgomery, and Fort Walton, as well as serving as the Demopolis District Superintendent. While at Fort Walton, he was instrumental in starting the Navarre United Methodist Church.

In addition to his great effectiveness as a pastor, one thing that stood out about “Red” was the encouragement
that he gave to teenagers and young adults to consider God’s call upon their lives to enter the ordained ministry.
Both Asbury and Emory Theological Seminaries recognized him for leading over 40 individuals to serve as
pastors within our Conference. He genuinely felt that the greatest “calling” for any individual was the call of God
upon their lives to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the local churches that he served, as well as the summer
camps that he directed, Red was very intentional in nudging teenagers to answer a “higher calling.”

As I reflect upon this great servant who died in 1986, I do not know of any greater need today within our
denomination than for more “Red” Hildreths to appear upon our scene to encourage young adults within our
churches to discern God’s “higher calling.” Red’s spirit lives on in the life of his daughter, Marjorie Ann, who is
married to the Reverend Walter Ellisor, and his grandson, Charles Cummings, who serves as the associate pastor
at the Auburn United Methodist Church. His spirit also lives on in over 40 aging pastors of this Conference that
he encouraged along the way. I am so grateful that my license to preach has a signature written in a bright red
ink: “Charles Henry ‘Red’ Hildreth.”

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