Rev. Dr. Rufus Hill Mitchell, affectionately called Reverend R. H. Mitchell, is the youngest of three children born in 1935 to Charlie Mitchell and Alberta Webb Mitchell in Walhalla, South Carolina. Walhalla is located in Oconee County in the Upstate of South Carolina. Oconee County is at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is known for its picturesque beauty of mountains and lakes. In his ministry of the Word to the congregation at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, Reverend Mitchell often reflects upon his fond memories of growing up in a county rich in family values and rural traditions. He is not ashamed of his humble beginnings and reminds worshippers to practice humility in order to be seen through the eyes of God and not through the eyes of man. Reverend Mitchell is married to Addie Brown Mitchell. They have two sons, Marshall L. Mitchell and Desmond H. Mitchell. They are also the proud grandparents of one grandson, Jeremiah Mitchell.
- Reverend Mitchell graduated in 1953 from the Oconee Training School in Seneca, South Carolina. The Oconee County Training School, also known as OCTS, was founded in 1925 and educated black children of Oconee County from 1925 to 1955. The all black school was replaced with Blue Ridge Middle School during Integration in the mid 1960′s. The school was later changed to Blue Ridge High School and subsequently transformed to Allen L. Code Elementary School. In 2009, Allen L. Code was changed to a Family Learning Center and serves as the district’s alternative school for middle and high school students. Upon completing high school Reverend Mitchell continued his education at Morris College located in Sumter, South Carolina where he graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Studies. He earned a Bachelor of Divinity Degree from Morris College in 1962 and a Masters of Education Degree from the University of South Carolina in 1988. In 2006 Morris College conferred a Doctor of Divinity Degree upon Reverend Mitchell honoring his contributions in the Christian Ministry and Education.
- Teaching Career
- Two years after graduating from Morris College, Reverend Mitchell accepted a teaching position at Seneca High School in 1964. The principal of the school approached him and asked him if he was interested in a teaching position in the school district. A great opportunity for which he was prepared had presented itself and he accepted. The start of a burgeoning career in education began. Reverend Mitchell taught Social Studies and History at Seneca High School from 1964-1971. It was only after learning that he could not get a contract with the school district because he was a preacher, did he seek employment elsewhere. In 1971 he accepted a teaching position at Westminster High School where he taught for one year. In 1972 he continued his career in Education at Tri-County Technical College, a comprehensive two-year community and technical college, located in Pendleton, South Carolina. Tri-County Technical College is one of the largest of the 16 colleges in the South Carolina Technical College System. Being employed by an institution of higher learning that steers students toward academic success; he knew he could make an impact. He assumed the additional role as Chaplain of the College in 1988. Reverend Mitchell taught Psychology and Economics for 17 years before accepting the newly defined staff position of Access and Equity Coordinator in 1990. As the Access and Equity Coordinator he visited high schools and encouraged students to continue their education. After 25 years of service, Reverend Mitchell retired from Tri-County Technical College in 1994.
- Answering the Call to Christian Ministry
- While in the 11th grade, Reverend Mitchell was called into the Christian Ministry in 1955. He was ordained to preach the Word of God during his second year of college in 1957. He has preached at several churches across the state of South Carolina. Olive Grove Baptist Church in Coward, SC (Florence County), St. Mary Baptist Church in Due West, SC (Abbeville County) and Flatrock Baptist Church in Walhalla, SC (Oconee County). Reverend Mitchell began his service at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in 1960 at the recommendation of Rev. E.L. Sitton. Reverend Sitton, having heard Reverend Mitchell preach, wanted the congregation to hear him and encouraged him to come to Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. Upon Reverend Sitton’s departure, Reverend Mitchell was approved by the Board of Deacons of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church to become its sixth pastor.
- Service in the Vineyards
- Over the years Reverend Mitchell has been involved in many educational and civic organizations in Anderson County and across the state; several of which he served as an officer. He has served on several Advisory Boards which includes the Board of Trustee of his alma mater, Morris College, from 2004-2008. Currently he is in his third term (2004-2008) as a member of the Anderson County Board of Education with his term scheduled to expire in 2016. He is also completing a fifth term as a board member on the Department of Social Services, having accepted the duties in 1998. He served as President of the Seneca River Congress of Christian Education from 1982-1988. He served as Moderator of the Rocky River Baptist Association for two four year terms; 1980-1984 and 1990-1994. He remains a member of the Anderson County Ministerial Organization where he has served for many years. He is also a member of the Baptist State Education & Missionary Convention of South Carolina headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina and the Progressive National Baptist Convention headquartered in Washington, DC. Both organizations continue to further the cause of humanity. Reverend Mitchell is proud of his affiliation with these organizations.
- Mt. Moriah Baptist Church Servant Leadership
- Under Reverend Mitchell’s leadership, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church has had many accomplishments and success. It has experienced significant growth spiritually and structurally. Many souls have been led to Christ under his leadership. He is thankful for church officers and the many organizations and committees that have devoted many years of dedicated service to the Mt. Moriah Church Family. Moreover he is grateful for God’s guidance in leading the way. The church’s original structure was built in 1878, 15 years after the abolition of slavery. Several additions were made to the structure to increase its capacity for worshippers. The structure was remodeled from its original structure in 1963 and again in 1974. The original church was demolished in 1990 and in 1991 a new structure was built on property purchased for expansion. The mortgage burning for the new structure was held on Sunday March 26, 2000. Under Reverend Mitchell’s leadership and direction, the Pulpit Aid, the Education and Scholarship Committee and the Birthday Club were formed. Also under his leadership the church founded Ram in the Bush. Ram in the Bush is the non-profit 501(C)3 entity of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church which focuses on community enrichment.
- Growing into the Future
- Since the completion of the new church, an architectural rendering of a Family Life Center to be built in the near future, has hung in the foyer of the church. The Family Life Center will be erected on the east side of the existing structure. In the spring of 2013, the church completed the design and construction of a new cemetery on its south side. Since the late 1960′s, Reverend Mitchell has held onto his vision of establishing a credit union for Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. This financial institution would serve the church and the community.
- Reverend Mitchell has been a member of the Seneca Masonic Lodge #204 for over 40 years. He is a member of Azzam Temple Shriners #84. He is also a member of the graduate Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He is also a Life member of the NAACP.
Awards & Achievements
- 1972 Teacher of the Year – Tri – County Technical College
- 1987 Outstanding Leadership as Moderator of The Rocky River Baptist Association
- 1991 President’s Award Outstanding Leadership in Christian Education
- 1991 Outstanding Service Award – Sunday School Congress of Christian Education
- 1992 Appreciation Award – The Rocky River Baptist Association
- 1993 Access and Equity Advisory Committee – Tri-County Technical college
- 1998 Anderson Ministerial Alliance Award
- 1999/2000/2001 Pointing the Way Nominee – Anderson Independent Mail
- 2000 Seneca Ministerial Alliance Award
- 2000 Chairman’s Award Martin Luther King Celebration /United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
- 2004 Keeper of the Flame Award United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
- 2005 Outstanding Service Award Morris College
- 2005 State of South Carolina Award
- 2005 Spreading the Gospel Award WANS Radio
- 2010 Letter of Commendation for Christian Service – President Barack Obama
- 2011 Black History Award Upstate WJMZ
- 2011 Golden Age Award Outstanding Emeritus – The Baptist State Convention of South Carolina
- 2012 Drum Major Award -Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Rho Delta Lambda Graduate Chapter)
- 2013 Order of the Silver Crescent State of South Carolina – Office of the Governor Nikki Haley
Favorite Bible Verse
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
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