Charles father was a slave but his mother was free. Even with Charles being a free man, he grew up with slaves. Charles mother died when he was four, and at five he was separated from his father. Never able to go to school, Charles learned independently and by asking people to tutor him. He taught himself to read and write by age 17. After civil war, he moved to Philadelphia, where he found employment as a hod carrier. He enlisted the help of a Philadelphia synagogue on North Broad St. to learn Hebrew and learned Greek by taking a correspondence course through the Boston Theological School.
As an adult Charles and his wife Daisy attended the Bainbridge St. Methodist Episcopal Church. He later became the sexton, a job with no salary. Then he soon labored as a janitor at Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church while attending night school.
Without a degree, Charles was qualified for ordination in the Methodist Episcopal Church by examination, with high ranking scores. He was ordained as a Deacon in the Delaware Conference in 1887 and as an elder in 1889. As was the practice of the ME church, Charles was assigned by his bishop to serve as an itinerant pastor staying a relatively short time at each charge: 1885 to Cape May, New Jersey, 1887 to South Wilmington, Delaware, 1889 to Odessa, Delaware. 1891 to Pocomoke, Maryland, 1894 to Fairmount, Maryland, and 1897 to Wilimington Delaware at Ezion Methodist Church. In 1900 he became the Presiding Elder of the Wilmington District.
Following the ordination and the several congregations he served; Charles returned to Calvary...