Dr. Charles Allen Thigpen
September 26, 1926 – December 31, 2020
Charles Allen Thigpen, 94, of Macon, Georgia, received his heavenly reward on December 31, 2020, after a long and rewarding life of dedication and service to the Lord, family, ministry, and people.
Charles was born to the late Jesse Allen and Mabel Thigpen on September 26, 1926, in Olanta, South Carolina, where he spent his childhood and was greatly impacted by his maternal grandparents, John and Stacia Thomas. Even as a teen, Charles displayed his strong work ethic as an assistant to the local pharmacist. At the age of 16, he left home to attend Bob Jones College where he received a B.A. degree in Bible and Pastoral Training. After graduation, on June 20, 1947, he married Laura Jane “Lolly” Coker, with whom he ministered for the next 73 years. After a short pastorate, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he began his ministry at Welch College (formerly Free Will Baptist Bible College), which spanned the years 1948-1991, except for a 4-year period when he had a fruitful ministry as pastor of Highland Park Free Will Baptist Church in Royal Oak, Michigan (now Central FWB Church). In his years at Welch College, he served as Professor, Administrator, President (1979-1990) and Chancellor. Throughout Charles’s many years of ministry, he served as a denominational leader, evangelist, interim pastor, and writer, while he also pursued several educational degrees in order to more fully serve in the academic arena. He received numerous degrees, culminating in a PhD from Middle Tennessee State University. After his retirement from Welch College, he began a 15-year ministry as Tennessee State Promotional Director from 1991-2006. He then moved to Macon, Georgia, to be near family where he continued to serve through preaching engagements, interim pastoral ministry, personal evangelism, and as an active member of White Oaks Free Will Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia.
Charles was a committed husband to his dear Lolly, devoted father to Jonathan, Laura, Ann, and Ruth, and faithful friend to many. He was the consummate soul winner, encourager, communicator, and shepherd. He had a true servant’s heart, which compelled him to pray continually, give generously, and reach out unselfishly to others. He was the ultimate pastor to pastors, personally calling and consistently praying for each of them by name. He was a gifted teacher, speaker and storyteller, as well as an excellent expositor and preacher of the Word. He was a disciplined and humble follower of Jesus, steadfast and true to the calling he had been given. Those who knew him, family and friends alike, will agree that he was “steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work” (I Corinthians 15:58).
Charles is survived by his daughters, Laura Cannon (Steve), Ann Maines (Gary), Ruth Slaten (Brad), and daughter-in-law Yvonne Thigpen (Jonathan, deceased), as well as 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren, and his brother, Edd Thigpen, and many nieces, nephews, and other relatives.
Charles’s wife of 73 years, Laura “Lolly” Coker Thigpen, preceded him to heaven by only three days, and he was also preceded in death by his beloved son, Jonathan Noel Thigpen, his parents, Jesse Allen and Mabel Thigpen, his step-mother, Kathleen Green Thigpen, his brothers Ingram Thigpen and Ernest Thigpen, and his sisters, Annelyn VanRoten and Vida Mabel Melton.
In lieu of flowers, the Thigpen family requests that memorial gifts be made to the “Thigpen Fine Arts Center” project at Welch College in Gallatin, Tennessee. Two years ago, Welch College launched an effort to name a wing of Celorio Hall on the new campus of Welch College the “Thigpen Fine Arts Center.” The purpose of the project is to perpetually honor the life and ministry of Dr. Charles A. and Laura Thigpen. The “Thigpen Fine Arts Center” will be the home of the drama and music departments of the college. Gifts may be sent to: “The Thigpen Fine Arts Center Project” c/o Welch College, 1045 Bison Trail, Gallatin, Tennessee, 37066.
Due to the restraints of COVID, there will be a memorial service and celebration of life at a later date. Please visit our website to leave memories, stories, and condolences. https://easlaten.wixsite.com/TheThigpens
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:7-8