Mike Rakes, pastor of Winston Salem First Church, is the next president of Evangel University.
It was the unanimous choice of the university’s board of trustees, which conducted a nationwide search for the fifth president of the private Christian campus in Springfield.
âMike is a dynamic and innovative leader who is extremely qualified to pursue the mission of Evangel University,â said Rick Ross, chairman of the board of directors of Evangel, in a press release. “He sees the big picture and looks for creative ways to uplift those around him, especially students.”
The announcement was made at noon Sunday, after Rakes informed the North Carolina congregation that he had led since 2006.
âI am so impressed with Evangelâs academic organization and programs which demonstrate innovation and thought leadership,â Rakes said in the statement. “I look forward to connecting with the Evangel family and working with exceptional students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors to create a determined and strong future for Evangel.”
Rakes has experience in ministry and higher education. He also leads workshops, writes a blog and writes books.
Rev. Doug Clay, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God and member of the board of directors of Evangel said in a statement, âDr. Rakes’ life and ministry is a testament to his commitment to helping others fulfill their divine callings. . His investment in the lives of students at Evangel University will help build a better future. “
Rakes, 58, will take on the role by the start of fall classes. He will succeed Carol Taylor, the institution’s first female president, who retired at the end of 2020. George O. Wood served as interim chief during a lengthy search.
âMike has a wealth of experience and a vision that makes him a tremendous choice as the next president of Evangel University,â Wood said in a statement. âHe is a strategic leader with unmatched integrity and wisdom. Mike is shaking things up and will bring a positive attitude to the presidency. “
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Mike Rakes’ ties to Springfield, MO
Rakes has ties to Springfield as a graduate of Central Bible College and Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministries and a master’s degree in biblical literature.
He holds a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate in ministry from the University of Biola. He also holds a doctorate in management from the University of Phoenix.
During his career, Rakes founded churches and served as pastor, consultant, and program writer in Florida, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
Rakes, an Assemblies of God minister, spent 15 years as a senior pastor at Winston Salem First Church, one of the most diverse congregations and church leadership teams in the region.
According to his website, MikeRakes.com, Rakes has attended workshops such as “Race and the Local Church”. He did not shy away from controversial topics.
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“Humanity and family, not politics, frame the world for me”
In a June 2020 blog post, Rakes wrote about the protests following the murder of George Floyd. He called on the church to pray for law enforcement and help calm the protests, but noted that getting back to “normal” was not the solution.
âLet’s see the pain that is going on in black and brown communities and let them know that we can see what they are seeing too. I can see ‘a people’ who have continually been wronged and need voices from all aspects. of society to say it out loud to our circles of influence, ‘We see what you see, and we cry with you and will look for ways to make the change!’, âRakes wrote.
“Humanity and family, not politics, define the world for me. I care deeply about human suffering and consider George Floyd my brother.”
In the post, he drew a parallel between protesters who destroyed property and pastors in parts of the United States who defied court orders to have in-person service at the height of the COVID pandemic- 19.
âThis challenge, and this is only my opinion, is the same rebellion expressed in a ‘different’ way,â Rakes wrote. âHowever, if a pastor makes a bad call and has a COVID-19 outbreak because of his rally, it could have deadly consequences, even more than the burning of shops and loss of property. and call them both evil. “
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Rakes has shown leadership in the community
Under Rakes’ leadership, Winston-Salem First Church has partnered with the community as part of its âDo Goodâ initiative. It provided care and resources to the needy through a series of outreach and service options.
He founded Bridges Christian College in 2009 to prepare students for full-time ministry, as a precursor to seminary education, and students were able to graduate debt-free. He was president until 2012.
Rakes was vice president for student development at Southeastern University, an Assemblies of God institution in Florida, from 2000 to 2006. He was chair of the practical ministry department from 1993 to 1999.
Rakes recently resigned as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Oral Roberts University.
He is also a writer and published author. His latest book, “Surrendered and Unafraid: The Flourishing of Faith during Seasons of Suffering” was released this fall. His first book, “Slings and Stones” was published in 2015.
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Rakes and his wife, Darla, have two children. Their son Brayden and his wife Heather have a child, Blake, with another named Beau on the way. Their daughter Whitney was the cult pastor at Winston-Salem First until her death in 2019 at the age of 27 after a long battle with cancer.
âEvangel is a leading institution for our movement,â Rakes said in the statement.
âThe distinction and impact of EU graduates around the world is enormous. My wife and I are very excited and honored to now have the opportunity to serve in place of our educational roots.
Claudette Riley is the News-Leader educational journalist. Email tips to [email protected]