Rev. Rachel I. Taylor Charles was born on May 24, 1927, in Buckley’s Village, Antigua in the British West Indies to Joseph and Sarah (Havercombe) Taylor. She was the youngest girl of eight children and was affectionately known as “Linny.” She accepted Christ at the early age of five years old. In her late teens, she went off to Bible School in Barbados, BWI and obtained her ministry certificate. After Bible School, Rachel pastored for the Pilgrim Holiness denomination on the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis of the British West Indies, and in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
In 1957, she married Rev. Ruel Alister Charles, Sr., a widower with five children. The couple was blessed with five additional children. In 1966, Rachel and her family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, where she and her husband founded a church, initially in their home. The Dorchester Immanuel Church of the Nazarene is still ministering today with their eldest daughter, Rev. Marcella Charles, as the Senior Pastor and their eldest son, Elder Winsett Charles, Sr., as the organist.
Rachel was also an accomplished seamstress who designed and made most of the clothes she wore. For many years, she owned a retail clothing store in St. Thomas, USVI. Upon moving to Boston, she trained and worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse until she retired from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Upon retirement in 1986, Rachel and her husband moved to Titusville, Florida, where she continued to minister in various Nazarene churches and in local nursing homes, even after the death of her husband in 1987.
In 2010, after her health began to fail, Rachel (affectionately known as “Mother”) moved to Dallas, Texas to live with her son Edward and his wife Doris. She once said, “I have been working for the Lord all my life; now, my ministry is to pray for my family, my children, and my grandchildren three times a day or anytime I think about them, and I am happy about it.”
Preceding her in death were her parents, Joseph and Sarah Taylor, her seven siblings, and her husband, R. Alister Charles, Sr. She leaves to cherish precious memories her ten children: Winsett Charles, Sr. (Gwen), Ruel Charles, Jr., Edward Charles (Doris), Rev. Marcella Charles, Helen Charles Cooper (Albert), Serene Charles, Esq., Sharon Charles Smith, Washington Irving Charles, Lyndon Charles (Tadia), and Rhoda Charles; eleven grandchildren; eleven great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and several nephews, nieces and cousins in the West Indies, Canada, Europe, and United States.
We called her Mother. She was strong enough to give birth to 5 kids of her own and brave enough to take on 5 older children of her husband. She was a preacher, a co-pastor, a singer, a housewife, a homemaker, and a church planter.
Mother loved to cook and she often experimented with food in order to expand her culinary offerings. I still remember some of the big Thanksgiving meals that she prepared for the family and friends.
After they retired and moved from Boston to Titusville, Florida, she took care of my father through a long illness until he passed away in 1987. After Dad's death, I started a personal tradition that went on for 20+ years of traveling down to Titusville to spend a couple weeks with Mother every Christmas. I always enjoyed the visits and learned a lot about how Mother thought about and prayed for her family.
Mother had a long, full life filled with many adventures that extended far beyond her humble beginnings. Between herself and her children, she has touched cultures from the Orient, to Europe, to the Middle East, to Central America, to Australia.
Well, Mother is finally home.
As the song says;
"But just think of stepping on shore
And finding it Heaven!
Of touching a hand - and finding it God's!
Of breathing new air - and finding it celestial!
Of waking up in glory - and finding it home!"
Rest in peace Mother. No more fear, death, and pain. Best of all, you get to see Jesus, the one who died for you.
Elder Ruel Charles
Rev. Marcella Charles' Tribute
My mother, Reverend Rachel Charles, lived her life for Christ. She was fully surrendered to God. When she said "Yes" to Him at the age of five, she meant it and there was no turning back. When God called her to preach and devote her life in service to Him at the age of 13, she listened and obeyed. She moved forward with abandon, pursuing the call of God and was in Bible College at the age of 25. She was focused and completed her studies, graduating in 1954. She was assigned her first pastorate on the island of St. Kitts at the age of 27 as a single woman. Her enthusiasm and faithful preaching were greatly used of God to attract young people to the church and many were saved during her ministry tenure. She became known as a passionate preacher and insightful Bible teacher. She was sought after by young and old for spiritual guidance. Later when she wed Rev. Ruel A. Charles, Sr., they continued ministering together as co-pastors on the island of Nevis, St. Thomas, VI and Boston, MA, Rev. Rachel Charles never wavered in her commitment to the Christian ministry and pastoral work.
As I matured into adulthood, Mother and I became friends and she became a mentor to me in Christian living and in the art of ministry. I accompanied her at times in her nursing home and home visitation ministries and observed her caring, discerning and courageous spirit. We had many conversations discussing biblical texts and sharing perspectives on various topics related to ministry or even current events. We became traveling companions whenever she wanted to attend some ministers' conference or seminar. She would ask me to look into the details and make the arrangements. Then we would make the road trip or fly to our destination. I enjoyed these times with her even though sometimes she would be a bit impatient to get to our destination.
Currently, I am pastor of a church in Boston that was planted by my parents fifty years ago, the Immanuel Church of the Nazarene. Mother played a huge role in recruiting children to the Sunday School, going door-to-door in the neighborhood to extend the invitation. She faithfully served alongside her husband, Rev. Ruel A. Charles, Sr. in order to see the church stabilized and thriving for the sake of the kingdom. They both left a legacy of faithfulness and hard work. It's an honor to help to see that work continue.
During her final years, Mother experienced a profound declension in her ability to verbally communicate, which formerly was an area of strength. I am sure this was frustrating for her. Even as her voice grew silent, there was a distinct response when we sang simple spiritual songs with her and she would even verbalize some of the words, "... yes, Jesus loves me." She was confident of that and her faith and assurance ministered to us and she was comforted. Gratefully, every now and then, God would surprise us by giving her a word of encouragement or exhortation to speak that would lift our spirits.
Yes, I thank God for having given us Mother Rachel. She has had a profound impact in this family, in the church, and in the community. She is now safe in the arms of Jesus. I love her and treasure her memory.
Rev. Marcella L. Charles