Dr. Ray H. Hughes Sr., former general overseer of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) and past president of Lee University and the National Association of Evangelicals, died late Monday night. He was 87. Hughes was the top leader of the denomination on three separate occasions, the most recent in 1996. He is the only person in the 125-year history of the Church of God to serve as the denominational leader three times.
A widely respected evangelical leader, Hughes rose to top leadership posts in several other organizations, including president of Pentecostal Fellowship of North America and the Pentecostal World Conference. During his chairmanship of the PWC, he led worldwide conferences in Oslo (1992), Jerusalem (1995) and Seoul (1998).
Hughes was first elevated to the post of general overseer of the Church of God after the death of R. Leonard Carroll in January 1972. He was elected later that year to serve out the two-year term and was re-elected general overseer in 1978. He served until 1982 when tenure limitations came into effect. In addition to general overseer, Hughes was elected to first, second and third assistant general overseer on several occasions, serving a total of 22 years on the Executive Committee, the denomination’s highest-ranking body of leaders.
Hughes first served as president of the former Lee College, now Lee University, from 1960 to 1966. Under his leadership, the campus' current Higginbotham Administration Building was constructed as well as the school’s first Science Building. He also set Lee on a course toward accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a liberal arts college.
Hughes returned as president of the college in 1982 to serve a two-year term. During that time he was instrumental in securing funding for the current Pentecostal Resource Center and a reconstruction of the campus gymnasium into an arena.
Following his second tenure at Lee, Hughes served as president of what is now the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, from 1984 to 1986.
Hughes considered himself first and foremost an evangelist. He led crusades around the globe speaking to thousands at a time. He was an author of several books and was a pastor, department leader, state overseer and national radio speaker for the Church of God.
“Dr. Hughes set the example of leadership in the Church of God,” Church of God General Overseer Dr. Raymond Culpepper said. “He was a towering figure generations have (admired), and will continue to admire. Dr. Hughes’ influence has been profound in the number of lives he touched and the ministries in which he led. He will be missed by the thousands upon thousands he touched over the more than 65 years of active ministry.”
A Web link in honor of Hughes has been launched on the Church of God website, www.churchofgod.org. The page has links to videos, articles and other aspects of his life and ministry. —The Cleveland Daily Banner
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