Rev. Charles H. Ryans Community Service Award
In 1994, Marvin Morgan, a Deacon at that time, partitioned the church to start a program in recognition of Dr. King. Although MLK Day had been a national holiday honoring Dr. King since 1983 and celebrated in many states and communities, Mr. Morgan wanted Salem Gilfield to join our community in this celebration. Inspired by Rev. Ryans’ Pastoral stewardship and service in many ministries, religious and community organizations, he partitioned the Governing Board to start a Service Award in Honor of Rev. Ryans. The award would be presented during the MLK Program and given to a person who had demonstrated outstanding service in Salem Gilfield, and the Memphis Community. Subsequently, with the approval of the Governing Board and church members, the first Rev. Charles H. Ryans Community Service Award was presented in January 1994.
Every year, since 1994, as a tribute to Dr. King, the Rev. Charles H. Ryans Community Service Award is presented to a recipient (s) during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Program. Along with the Rev. Ryans Sr. Community Service Award, the program includes a memorial tribute to members, as well.
Rev. Charles Henry Ryans, Pastor (1981 – 1996)
Reverend Charles H. Ryans was ordained as the minister of the Gospel on June 27, 1976, at Metropolitan Baptist Church by Dr. Fred C. Lofton, Pastor Emeritus. While at Metropolitan Baptist Church, he served as a Sunday School Teacher, Deacon, General Director of the Baptist Training Union, and Director of Christian Education. He also severed as President of the Memphis Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress for 15 years.
He was a native of Greensboro, Alabama, and a veteran of World War II, where he served for two years, attaining the rank of Sergeant. He received his Bachelor’s degree in 1950 from Tuskegee University in Mechanical Industries with a major in Building Construction. After graduating from Tuskegee University, he accepted employment with E. H. Davis & Sons in Memphis, TN, a Black construction firm.
Rev. Ryans was a talented and skillful engineer, having worked on and supervised the construction of many homes and businesses in the Memphis area. Also, he designed the current pulpit and choir stand at Salem Gilfield Baptist Church.
In August 1953, he was united in Holy matrimony to Ms. Willie Harrison and to this union were born three children.
He later did advanced study at the University of Memphis and received his Master’s degree from the university in 1984. He also studied at Memphis Theological Seminary.
Rev. Ryans was a member of Phi Delta Kappa, Memphis Baptist Minister’s Alliance, Tennessee B. M. & E. Convention, West Tennessee B. M. & E. Association, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and Memphis Christian Ministries Conference. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of RAP (Responsible Adolescence Parenting), associate member of Shelby County Interfaith, and a lifetime member of the NAACP. He served as Chaplain of the Memphis and Shelby County Retired Teachers Association, Director of Doctrine of the Memphis Baptist Ministers’ Alliance, President Emeritus of the Memphis Baptist Congress of Christian Education, and Vice President of the Tennessee Progressive Baptist Council.
Rev. Ryans was a lover of photography, which is evident by a large number of slides, photographs, and videos that have been enjoyed by him.
Rev. Ryans was elected as Pastor of Salem Gilfield Baptist Church on April 21, 1981. He was formally installed on Sunday, June 14, 1981. During his service at Salem Gilfield, Rev. Ryans established the Workers’ Council to provide a Bible study class for all teachers and officials of the Sunday School, B. T. U., and other auxiliaries of the Church. He developed a training class for Young Associate Deacons to teach them the significant responsibilities of a Deacon before they were installed and confirmed. He established Tape Ministry for the sick, shut-in, and aged members of the church. In 1986, he led the congregation in successfully eliminating its burden of a church mortgage. The event culminated with a mortgage burning ceremony.
His faithful service and various accomplishments led to the establishment of the Charles H, Ryans Sr. Community Service Award, which is presented every year during Salem Gilfield’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Service. This award is given to a member of Salem Gilfield and a member in the Memphis community that has made significant contributions in community service.
After his retirement from Salem Gilfield in December 1996, Rev. Ryans returned to Metropolitan, where he again served in various capacities. Despite his failing health, he always devoted his time to counseling and helping others in the community.
Rev. Ryans’ journey in this life was ended Thursday, November 22, 2001.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an American federal holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15th. The campaign for a federal holiday in Dr. King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968.
Soon after, the King Center (founded by Mrs. Coretta Scott King) turned to support from the corporate community and the public. The success of this strategy was reinforced by musician Stevie Wonder’s release “Happy Birthday” to popularize the campaign in 1980. Preceding, a Rally for Peace Press Conference was held in 1981, and six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law.
Although the federal holiday honoring Dr. King was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and took effect three years later, not every U.S. state chose to observe the holiday at the state level until 1991. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000. It is inspiring that celebrations are uniquely sponsored by community organizations, universities, schools, youth programs, and churches across America, as wells as in some foreign countries.
MLK Service Day
The National Martin Luther King Day of Service was started by former U.S. Senator, Harris Wofford and Congressman John Lewis, who co-authored the King Holiday and Service Act. The legislation challenges Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of Dr. King. The federal legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 23, 1994.
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Listed below are the Rev. Charles H. Ryans Community Service Award recipients: