The mill village church that played such a vital role in the lives of its members across the piedmont Carolinas has all but disappeared. One of those churches, Northside Baptist Church, and its pastor are singled out for special praise by Mitch Carnell in his new book, Our Father: Discovering Family. Carnell credits the people of Northside and Rev. Roy R. Gowan for laying the foundation and then giving him permission to explore the meaning of his Christian faith. “Mitchell,” Gowan said one day, “God created all of you. That includes your brain. God did not expect you to turn it off when you come to church. God is not put off by your questions.”
Carnell’s book begins at St. Paul’s cathedral in London and then weaves back and forth in the stages of his life. He began writing the book with two simple questions. How did I get to where I am spiritually from where I started? What am I to do with the rest of my life? According to the author, God had a much bigger idea. He wanted me to discover the vastness of his family. I had to stretch the boundaries of my small town background and open my mind and heart to a larger way of thinking.
Dr. Carnell also gives a great deal of credit to his lifelong friend, the Rev. Ansel McGill who retired as pastor of Parisview Baptist Church in Greenville. He also singles out professors at Mars Hill College and Furman University. His late wife, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, questioned all of his assumptions in a loving but forceful manner.
He has now been an active member of First Baptist Church of Charleston for fifty years. He stresses the contributions of its long time pastor, the late John A. Hamrick, to his life. He credits Hamrick and the church’s legendary organist and Minister of Music and Worship, David Redd, for teaching him how to worship.
Our Father; Discovering Family, is available at most book stores, as an ebook from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or the publisher wipfandstock.com. Dr. Carnell is a speaker/consultant in the fields of interpersonal and organizational communication. His website is www.mitchcarnell.com.