By Bryant Thigpen
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Many know him as coach; others know him as pastor. He has spent his life serving the people of this County through the Madison County Education System and as pastor of Pineland Missionary Baptist Church. While he’s given of himself sacrificially to this community for many years, it is this writer’s privilege to spotlight the life of Coach and Pastor Charlie Barfield.
In 1949, Barfield was born in Madison to his parents, Charlie and Samuel Barfield on December 28. Raised in Madison, Barfield came from a large family consisting of four sisters and two brothers. Growing up in a Christian home, the example was set before him by Godly parents, and he learned which pathway to walk in. At the early age of 12, followed the footsteps of his parents and gave his life to Christ at St. James Missionary Baptist Church.
Barfield began kindergarten at the Madison County Training School, and graduated from there in May of 1967 with a high school diploma. He began playing basketball in Junior High and played until his senior year, and would earn a scholarship to play basketball at Edwards Waters College in Jacksonville.
After taking an extended break and taking selected classes at North Florida Junior College, Barfield graduated from Edwards Waters in 1976 in with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.
The next thing on the list of things to do was to send a resume to schools in the state of Florida. Of approximately 30 resumes sent, Madison Middle School was the only door that opened. “It was a God thing,” Barfield explains.
Barfield accepted the offer and began teaching Physical Education in February of 1977 at MMS, while also coaching the Wildcats in football, softball, baseball and basketball.
The year 1977 proved to be life changing for Barfield as he would walk down the isle and marry Shirley, his high school sweet heart.
“One thing that attracted me to him was that he was always well dressed. In fact, even in high school he was awarded best dressed,” she laughs.
It was just a few years later that Barfield would accept the call into ministry under the influence of Rev. David Delaughter and Rev. J.C. Miller. In 1984, Barfield began his preaching ministry and preached as an evangelist until receiving his first call to pastor at Friendship Baptist Church in Metcalf, Ga. During the same year, he also accepted the position as senior pastor at Pineland Missionary Baptist Church in Madison. For 10 years, Barfield preached at Friendship on the first and third Sunday of each month and would handle services at Pineland on the second and fourth Sundays.
While at Friendship, the church was able to build brand new facilities under the leadership of Barfield, who ultimately resigned in 1994 to preach at Pineland on a full-time basis.
Looking back, Barfield has enjoyed many years of success in education and ministry. He coached the MMS Wildcats to approximately 12 championships and the Madison County Central School Broncos to three championships. “I had to learn how to love sports,” his wife laughed. When Barfield isn’t on the sideline coaching, he enjoys going to sporting events and fishing.
“You know, I watch football games and cheer for the Florida State Seminoles and the FAMU Rattlers. But sometimes, I even cheer for the gators,” he laughs.
After 35 years of teaching and 33 years of coaching, Barfield will say good-bye to the court as he coaches his last basketball game at Madison County Central School. “Even with longevity, you have to love what you do. I love teaching and ministry, so they went well together,” he said.
When asked what his plans after retirement will be, he laughed, “I’ll probably sleep in.” Barfield will continue full-time in the ministry and spend his time visiting with people who can’t get out. Barfield will continue to serve as the president of the Ministers, Deacons and Laymen Training Union and second vice moderator of the Bethlehem Baptist Association.
This year marks 26 years of ministry at Pineland Missionary Baptist Church. Over the many years of preaching, Barfield has witnessed many changes and experienced many funny moments. “I remember this one time,” his wife said. “Charlie was preaching his heart out, and at the climax of his message, his dentures came flying out and fell straight to the floor. But he swooped down, picked them up and put them back in, and kept on preaching! Thankfully, nobody else noticed what happened, but it made for a good laugh.”
To the public he is known as coach and pastor, but at home he is known as a loving dad to three kids: Carneze, Jarrod and Charlene; and grandpa to three grandchildren: J’Myrial, E’Myria, and Ke’niya.
“He’s my love, my companion, my pastor and the apple of my eyes,” Shirley said. “And he’s been my best friend since 1965.”
If there’s one message that he has left with his students down through the years, it is to learn how to love people. “It doesn’t cost you a thing,” he explained. “If you love God, you will love people. Be joyful, smile a lot, and be lovable.”