Senior Pastor - Dr. Charles C. Lever, Sr.
Dr. Charles C. Lever, Sr. serves as our Senior Minister at the Orange Park United Methodist Church. He and his wife, Xiommy (pronounced “See-Ah-Me’), also called “Sam,” have two sons, Chaz, a PhD student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and Chapman, a marketing manager for Rigor in Atlanta, GA.
Dr. Lever received his calling into the Ordained Ministry as a youth and received his License to Preach in 1975. He met his wife, Xiommy, on a double date in high school, both were dating other individuals at the time, and ended up dating their senior year in high school. Their common love for the church and for one another made them an ideal match for each other. Xiommy has been active in leading Bible Studies for women and youth, the Disciple Bible Study, Emmaus and has served as a Certified Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church.
The Levers, as a family, have led mission teams to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico, Honduras, the Bahamas and Jamaica. Their teams have been responsible for building a medical clinic in Honduras, a parsonage in Costa Rica, a computer lab in Mexico, a classroom in Nicaragua and have worked to build homes for Methodist Habitat in the Bahamas. In addition to construction projects, they have led medical teams including vision, health and pharmacy professionals as well as Vacation Bible Schools for children.
Dr. Lever received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Wofford College in Spartanburg. SC; his Master of Divinity degree in Ministerial Studies from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta; and his Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian Education and Pastoral Care from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. His continuing education credits include work at the Jerusalem Center for Church Studies in Israel; the Robert Schuler Institute in Garden Grove, CA; and others.
Dr. Lever is the recipient of the American Legion Award for "Courage, Honor, Leadership, Patriotism, Scholarship and Service;" has been inducted into the International Honorary Chapter of the Sigma Nu Fraternity, the Phi Beta Kappa "National Scholastic Society," Pi Gamma Mu "National Social Science Honor Society," the International Society of Theta Phi for "Scholars and Leaders in Religion,'' and the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity for "Academic and Extracurricular Leadership." Dr. Lever has been listed in various volumes of "Who's Who,” “Outstanding Young Men in America," and “The National Dean's List."
Dr. Lever has a varied background in Christian Ministry. In college he served as Youth Counselor at the Look-Up Lodge and Camp in Traveler's Rest, SC; as a Youth Director at Duncan Memorial UMC in Spartanburg, SC; and as a Summer Youth Director at Southside UMC in Jacksonville, FL. In seminary he served as Minister of Martin's Chapel UMC in Lawrenceville, GA; as a Chaplain to the terminal care unit at Wesley Woods Health Center in Atlanta, GA; and as a Chaplain to the oncology unit at Crawford Long Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA.
Dr. Lever, during his years of service in the Florida Conference, has served churches in Jacksonville, Tampa, Winter Park and Vero Beach. While serving at Swaim Memorial UMC in Jacksonville he was instrumental in working with Frank and Helen Sherman who gave seven million dollars to begin the Sherman Scholarship program. This program identified students entering Candler School of Theology at Emory University from the Florida Conference and provided funding for their theological education.
Dr. Lever has been active in both the District and Conference affairs of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. On the District level he has served on the Board of the Christian Enrichment School, the District Committee on Finance, the District Committee on Superintendency and as Chair of the District Committee on Ordained Ministry. On the Conference level, he has served on the Conference Council on Ministries, the Conference Work Area on Education, the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, the Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits and he currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home.
Dr. Lever has served on numerous boards and agencies. Among these are the boards of The Methodist School of Early Education in Winter Park, FL; Churches United in Global Mission in Los Angeles, CA; The Early Education Center in Tampa, FL; The Wesley Villas in Jacksonville, FL; The Riverside Park Apartments in Jacksonville, FL; The Riverside Park Child Care Center in Jacksonville, FL; The Life Center for Senior Citizens in Jacksonville, FL; and The St. Mark’s Ark Preschool and Daycare Center in Jacksonville, FL. Dr. Lever, served as the founding Vice-Chair of the Board of Wesley Villas, which built a 6 million dollar, 64-unit villa retirement complex during its first three years, creating a capital asset that was paid for when completed.
Dr. Lever completed his first book, “If You Can’t Climb the Wall, Build a Door,” in 1997 and is currently working on his second book. He has spoken at the Robert Schuller International Institute on Church Leadership, has served as Guest Chaplain of the United States Senate, and addressed numerous conferences and workshops.
Dr. Lever is excited to be sharing in the ministry of the Orange Park United Methodist Church. He loves the multigenerational emphasis of the church family which provides opportunities to nurture and grow in one’s personal journey for individuals of all ages. But best of all, the church family understands that they are called not to be served but to serve. As a consequence they seek to be in mission at both home and abroad. The churches outreach abroad ranges from a church in Cuba to a medical clinic in Haiti. At home, the church sponsors outreach ministries ranging from Upward Basketball, to an Early Education Center, to a tutoring program in the local elementary school. Additionally, the church has over 35 local missions ranging from a ramp ministry for the disabled, a food ministry for the community and a bicycle ministry for children. Most importantly, the church family continually strives to grow in Christlikeness and to reach out in to those outside of the church family in His Name.
Dr. Lever believes that the bedrock of our faith is to be found in coming to know Christ and in making Him known to others through word and deed. It is to this end that Dr. Lever has committed his life to God's Kingdom.