Charles Stewart Lived a Life of Devotion and Inspiration
By Carrie Stambaugh
The Ashland Beacon
Pastor Charles E. Stewart, 90, of Ashland was laid to rest Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, in Rose Hill Burial Park overlooking the school and church that were his life’s work and legacy. Friends and family members honored Stewart at his funeral Wednesday at Rose Hill Baptist Church with stories of hope and love his devotion and faith inspired in them and countless others.
Stewart was born July 26, 1928, in Ashland, and was a graduate of Ashland High School. The son of the late Thurston and Pauline Nolte Stewart, he was also preceded in death by his three siblings brothers Ivan and Clarence and sister Leona Williams. His wife of nearly 70 years, Clara Lee Fleming Stewart and children, Daniel E. Stewart, Joy Lee Huff, Nancy Lynn Cantrell, and Reva Jean Lavender, along with grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews survive him.
He began his ministry at the Leach Station Baptist Church in Catlettsburg in 1957 before pastoring Grace Baptist Church in Ceredo, West Virginia. In 1964 he was called to Rose Hill Baptist Church where he spent the next 30 years leading the church and overseeing its expansion into education and world-wide ministry. Under his watch, the congregation of Rose Hill swelled from 83 worshippers to more than 3,000 between 1964 and 1994.
During his tenure, the church opened the Rose Hill Christian School, of which Stewart served as Chancellor from 1994 until his death. Rose Hill also began five missions; Grace Baptist Church in Flat-woods, Rush Baptist Chapel in Rush, First Southern Baptist Chapel in South Point, Ohio and Garner Baptist Church in Ashland and Fellowship Baptist Chapel in South Shore under his leadership.
Stewart was known for taking his ministry to the people. As a bi-vocational minister, he worked 37 years for the West Virginia Gas Company, and he spent most evenings and weekends visiting the sick at home and in hospitals. “If you sit in their homes, they will sit in your pews at church,” he was known to say.
Dr. Paul Badgett, a Southern Baptist minister and member of the Kentucky Baptist Convention told mourners he had patterned his life and ministry after Stewart. Longtime friend and fellow pastor Rev. Jim Nichols also called Stewart his mentor. “He touched many thousands of lives,” said Nichols, adding “He knew everyone.” He recalled a time the pair were visiting in the hospital. A lady came running down the hall to Brother Stewart, Nichols said, “The woman asked, ‘Do you remember me?’ and Chuck said, ‘Of course I do. Now introduce yourself to Brother Jim.’”
“He knew everyone,” con-firmed son-in-law Mike Lavender. “They would be in Israel, and people would come up to him that knew him,” he shared.
Called to spread The Gospel to all who would listen Stewart traveled extensively visiting Israel, Egypt, Rome, Jordan, Ath-ens, Canada, Venezuela, Brazil, Russia, Australia, England, and Korea. He often conducted massive revivals during these visits similar to the ones he was known to host at Rose Hill in Ashland. His revivals were known for the musical talent they featured, which served to draw people into the church. “Music is important in the church and people like the music. They will come from all over to hear it,” Stewart once said. His greatest joy and blessing in life, he often said too, was that so many people did come and heard the Word of God.
To share a remembrance of Pastor Stewart, or to express a condolence to his family, please visit: www.steenfuneralhome. com. The family requests that instead of flowers to honor Stewart’s life donations be made to Rose Hill Christian School or Rose Hill Baptist Church, 1001 Winslow Road, Ashland, KY 41102.