Award given annually for excellence in pastoral ministry

Southern Wesleyan University presented the Virgil A. Mitchell Award for Excellence in Pastoral Ministry to James Spaugh, lead pastor of Bagley Swamp Wesleyan Church in Hertford, N.C.

“Today’s recipient has proven himself to be a person of excellence in the manner that Dr. and Mrs. Mitchell wanted to recognize,” said Mari Gonlag, chair of Southern Wesleyan’s division of religion.

More than 20 years ago, Dr. Virgil Mitchell and his wife Mary established the Virgil A. Mitchell Award for Excellence in Pastoral Ministry. It was established to encourage excellence in ministry, to enhance the importance of pastoral ministry, to express gratitude for Mitchell’s own ministerial education received at SWU, and to exalt Jesus Christ. The award is presented annually by the Division of Religion and the Southern Area of The Wesleyan Church.

James and Amy Spaugh (pictured with Dr. Todd Vosss, president of SWU) were called to serve the church, located in rural Perquiman’s County, which is tucked away along the Albemarle Sound and coastal rivers of northeastern North Carolina. When the Spaughs came to Bagley Swamp Church, attendance averaged around 50 on a good Sunday. Since then, the church has grown in impact, attendance, and outreach, now serving nearly 300 people through its various ministries. Gonlag noted the far-reaching impact of the church from the Virginia border to the Outer Banks. The church recently completed a 12,000 square foot facility. Spaugh is also involved in his community through memberships in civic clubs, the volunteer fire department, schools, and outreach agencies.

Spaugh was ordained in the North Carolina East District of The Wesleyan Church in 1997. He is a 1990 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received a master of divinity degree in 1996 from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. Spaugh, who grew up near Winston-Salem, N.C., is married and has three children, including his son Kaleb, currently a senior religion major at Southern Wesleyan.

Spaugh placed his faith in Jesus in high school through the influence of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and credits much of his spiritual formation and call to the ministry of Dan and Cynthia LeRoy and the Chapel Hill Wesleyan Church, which he attended during part of his college years and beyond.

He has served the North Carolina East District in multiple capacities including youth and children’s camps, the District Board of Ministerial Development, and is currently a member of the North Carolina East District Board of Administration and serves as district secretary.