“If you would have asked me when I was 25 years old if I would have been preaching, I would have never ever thought that I would be here doing this.”
David Mancill said those very words nearly 10 months after taking his first full-time pastor position at Clarksdale Baptist Church in February.
Mancill is a Baptist and attended Hillcrest Baptist Church in his hometown Mascot, Fla., as a child and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior by age 7, but his faith was not at the forefront of his life. He took a long and unconventional path from growing up in the state of Florida to going into the ministry as a pastor in Clarksdale, Miss.
After coming from an agriculture background where his father managed and ran a plant nursery for years, Lake Avalon Plant Company, Mancill, the son of Gail and Archie Mancill, decided to attend Mississippi State University where the environment was smaller than the University of Florida.
Mancill met his eventual wife, Stephanie, as a student at Mississippi State and the two married in 1998. Stephanie took a job working for Stumble Seed Company in Greenville following her graduation from Mississippi State.
“As I finished my time in Starkville, I ended up over there,” Mancill said. “My degree from Starkville was ag economics.”
Mancill earned his bachelor’s degree in 1993 and master’s in the late 1990s.
“We were living in Greenville,” Mancill said. “We found a good church there. She and I were both growing. That’s probably where I really started growing in my Christian faith.”
Mancill attended Emmanuel Baptist Church in Greenville and was working in seed stocks for Stoneville Pedigree Seed Company.
“God started moving in my heart and realized that he was pointing me in a direction of Christian service,” Mancill said. “I didn’t know what at that time, but he laid it on my heart that He wanted me to go back to school and get a degree in counseling.”
Mancill discovered he wanted to get that degree in counseling through going to church.
“It was actually kind of unique,” Mancill said. “The church we were at had a lady there that was a Christian psychologist (Patricia Gaines) and she began training some people just as listeners for people that would come through the church and may be having some problems. I realized then that I had a little bit of skill in the counseling profession.
“It really set me on a pathway where I wanted to do more in terms of individual one-on-one Christian counseling. It just happened that in Cleveland, Miss., there was a college and I could drive and take night classes. So I went back to college at Delta State, got a master’s degree in counseling.”
Mancill earned his degree in counseling from Delta State University in 2007.
Toward the end of the time he was completing the program, Mancill was required to do part-time work to complete his internship as part of becoming a licensed counselor in Mississippi. The part-time work as in addition to his full-time position with Stoneville Pedigree Seed Company.
Mancill worked as an intern at a Christian counseling place in Jackson, he spent time in community mental health in Yazoo City and he also took other part-time positions including busing tables.
“We were busy, Mancill said. “By this time, we had our son. He was born in 2000. This whole time, Stephanie’s working. I’m going to school and working. We’re raising Joshua our son.”
Mancill’s son, Joshua, graduated from high school in 2018 as a home school student while the family was living in Tunica. He currently attends Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia as an engineering major.
Joshua currently spends some of his time working at Michael’s Machine Shop. Michael Edmonson, a member of Clarksdale Baptist Church who was on the search committee to hire Mancill, is the owner.
“Michael is a good guy,” Mancill said. “He’s a dear friend of mine.”
Mancill’s work in counseling led to the adoption of his daughter, Jordan Abigail, 6, and becoming a pastor.
Commuting from Greenville, Mancill took his first full-time counseling position at Warren-Yazoo Mental Health in 2007. In 2008, David and Stephanie began the adoption process with Bethany Christian Services. Bethany Christian Services counsels young ladies in crisis pregnancies and helps then set up adoptions.
The Mancills had still not been able to adopt a child when David began working in counseling for Baptist Children’s Village on April 1, 2014. He took the position so he could use his home in Greenville as an office in case he and Stephanie adopted a baby. Jordan was born three days later on April 4, 2014. David received the call about adopting Jordan on April 8, 2014.
“It took six years for God to get us ready to have our daughter,” Mancill said.
When David received a call about adopting a baby, Stephanie was teaching at the Riverside School District in the Greenville area. He was told to go to the school and find a place to call the adoption worker with Stephanie in private.
“That morning, we got up and went to work,” Mancill said. “That afternoon, we had a daughter. It was just like that.”
Baptist Children’s Village worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Human Services. As a Baptist Children’s Village employee, that gave Mancill the opportunity go in homes and help struggling families.
“At that time, my territory came all the way up into Tunica County, so I was in several counties on the road working for the Baptist Children’s Village,” Mancill said. “A friend of mine was at Tunica and I met him for lunch. On my way home, I just kind of felt this impression from God, ‘David, would you go to Tunica if I told you to?’ Just out of the blue again. He does so many things to us out of the blue. I called Stephanie and she said, ‘That’s great. If that’s where God wants us.’”
Mancill moved from Greenville to Tunica in early 2015 while Joshua was a freshman. He originally enrolled at Tunica Academy before switching to home school in the middle of his junior year.
Mancill was still working for Baptist Children’s Village and running his own counseling business on the side. He became a member of Lifepoint Tunica church and felt the desire to become an ordained pastor.
He became ordained in 2016 and when the position opened, he became a the pastor at Lifepoint Tunica while still working in the counseling business.
The church closed in 2018, but he still had a desire to be a pastor.
Clarksdale native Dennis Landrum, who works in the Baptist Association, presented Mancill’s resume to Clarksdale Baptist Church. He was hired, began working part-time in January and full-time in February. He still does private counseling on his day off Tuesday.
“I believe this is where God led us. This was the only church that I know of that Dennis gave my resume to. When they approached me, Stephanie and I prayed about it. In the Baptist church, each church, when they’re looking for a pastor gets a group of church members together called a pastor search committee. Then they interview the pastors. They pray over them and determine if a pastor is being called for that church. And so I went through that process with a few of the members here. They prayed about it and asked me to come on board full-time. I prayed about it and thought that this was where God wanted us. They presented me to the church and the church affirmed that and they hired me as their pastor.”
Thoughts on church
Mancill’s vision is to make Clarksdale Baptist Church more outreach minded with men’s and women’s ministries and other activities. He resides in Dundee, but had only driven through Clarksdale before taking his position as pastor of the church.
“I’ve lived in or worked in several Delta counties and communities over the past few years,” Mancill said. “Each community has its own flavor. Clarksdale, it’s probably one of the more open communities that I’ve been involved in, open in terms of there are people here that want to see this place really succeed. There’s no one industry other than agriculture that drives the community. It looks to be one where there’s the potential for it to become a very tight-knit community.”
Mancill hopes his vision of being outreached minded will help the church and community reach its potential long after he is serving as pastor.
There are currently 250 church members on record. Before COVID pandemic, 130 individuals attended a service on a particular Sunday. Now, the number is 75 to 100, but services are virtual every Sunday.
Mancill said when Oakhurst Baptist Church was going to its Easter ceremony, several other churches, including Clarksdale Baptist Church, were going to be a part of it, but COVID caused it not to take place. He was also invited to do a Lenten lunch at a Methodist church.
Clarksdale Baptist Church did take part in Riverside Baptist Church’s Operation Christmas Child where children in more than 178 million children in 169 countries have received a shoebox.
Even during the pandemic, the ministries are still having an impact.
“The men’s ministry is designed specifically so that it can reach out to other men and mentor them,” Mancill said. “As those leaders look for ways to build relationships and that’s the stage it’s in right now. They’re building relationships. That’s why you see the chili cookoffs that we do and the wild game suppers to draw men in. The men are going to do a spaghetti supper after one Sunday morning. They’re ministering, but they’re also reaching out to people outside of the church to make them comfortable and bring them in.”
Stephanie is a part of a three-to-four member committee of the church’s women’s ministry.
“Whenever I prayed about getting this ministry started, the desire was to have a group of ladies that can minister specifically to ladies’ needs whether it be helping a new young mom or a single mother or just teaching other women,” Mancill said. “The Bible tells us that the ladies need to teach younger women how to be Godly women and the same thing for men. What happens is that team, they pray through that direction they’re headed. Like right now they’re doing a Sunday night ladies Bible studies. That’s designed to grow relationships with women, not just inside our church, but we’ve got ladies coming from outside of our church that specifically come to that section.”
Mancill, a regular casual dresser, wears a button down shirt and slacks to church without a coat and tie. He has an earpiece microphone. He acknowledged being comfortable in casual attire, but also said, when people come to church, he wants them to know his main concern is how God works on their heart before they leave.
“The first thing that they told me is that I move around a lot, so I use the whole stage,” said Mancill of his preaching style. “I walk most of the time because I’ve got a lot of nervous energy.”
Mancill said it helps involve the whole congregation at the same time.
“This is my first full-time position as a pastor and every day I’m learning something,” Mancill said. “Every day God is growing me, growing my faith, dealing with my anxieties and fears of leading a group of people. This is really like a brand new career to me.”
Mancill enjoys hunting in his spare time.
“I’m like everybody else,” he said. “I don’t do near as much as I wish I could. I love to hunt. I love just being out in the woods. Part of that is it gives me and my son an opportunity to be together and do something we enjoy together.”
Mancill said he has hunted with members of Clarksdale Baptist Church. Stephanie is from the Tate County area in Senatobia where there is family land for him to hunt.
Mancill said he has hunted, deer, squirrel and hogs and fish in the spring time.
After Joshua graduated from high school, he saved up money to go on an elk hunting trip. He went on the trip to New Mexico in late October and killed an elk.
Mancill himself killed a good size deer in Mayersville when he was living in Greenville.
“These days, to be honest, I do more going and looking than I do hunting,” Mancill said.
Mancill’s favorite food is steak and likes it medium rare.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story and additional photos can be found in this month's edition of Coahoma Living Magazine. Copies can be picked up a the Clarksdale Press Register office at 128 East Second Street.