Rev. Charles H. Ryans

Community Service Award

In  1994, it was the desire of Mr. Marvin Morgan, Sr. who was a former  Deacon of the church, to start a program to commemorate the birthday of  Dr. King with a memorial service at Salem Gilfield.  He was also a  Sunday School teacher and involved in many of the ministries of the  church.   His family was also actively involved in church ministries and  worship.  Mr. Morgan is married and a proud father of two children.

Inspired by Rev. Ryans’ Pastoral stewardship and service in many  ministries, religious and community organizations, he requested an Award  be presented during the MLK program, and named in honor of Rev. Ryans.   The Award would be presented to a person each year who had demonstrated  outstanding service in the church and/or 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.

Each 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. C. H. 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 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 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.  In addition, he designed the  current pulpit and choir stand at Salem Gilfield Baptist Church.

In August 1953, he was united in Holy matrimony to Willye 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 the 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 great 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/or 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 counsel and serve others  in the community.

Rev. Ryans’ journey in this life was ended Thursday, November 22, 2001.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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.    Foregoing, 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.

For additional information:

List below are the Rev. Charles H. Ryans Community Service Award recipients: