After conducting a nationwide search for its next president, the Evangel University Board of Trustees has announced the unanimous selection of Dr. Mike Rakes as the institution’s fifth president. Rakes transitions to EU from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he has served as the lead pastor of Winston-Salem First (WSF), a thriving Assemblies of God church, since 2006.
“Mike is a dynamic and innovative leader who is extremely qualified to carry on Evangel University’s mission,” said Dr. Rick Ross, EU board of trustee chairman. “He sees the big picture and looks for creative ways to lift up those around him, especially students. I am excited for Mike, his wife Darla, and the Evangel University family. I am confident he will take the university to new levels of academic excellence and success.”
Rakes will officially begin his service to EU at the start of the fall semester. He will take over responsibilities from Dr. George O. Wood, who has served as interim president since the retirement of EU’s fourth president, Dr. Carol Taylor, in November of 2020.
“I am so impressed with the academic organizations and programs at Evangel that demonstrate innovation and thought leadership,” said Rakes. “I look forward to connecting with the Evangel family and working with outstanding students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors to create a purposeful and strong future for Evangel.”
Rakes, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, has led the diverse congregation of Winston Salem First as its visionary and relationally focused leader for the past 15 years. The church has cemented itself as a community partner through its “Do Good” initiative, focused on providing compassionate care and resources to those in need through a variety of outreach and service-focused opportunities.
In addition to his pastoral experience, Rakes is a proven leader in higher education.
Rakes founded Bridges Christian College, accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education, in 2009 to prepare students for full-time ministry and as a pre-cursor to a seminary education. Students were able to graduate debt free. Rakes served as president through 2012.
Rakes also served as the vice president for student development at Southeastern University, an Assemblies of God institution, in Lakeland, FL from 2000-2006 and as chair of its Practical Ministry Department from 1993-1999.
He has also been a church planter, pastor, consultant, and curriculum writer in Florida, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
“Mike has a breadth and scope of experience and vision that make him a tremendous choice as the next president of Evangel University,” said Dr. Wood. “He is a strategic leader with unparalleled integrity and wisdom. Mike makes things happen and will bring a positive “can do” attitude to the presidency. I look forward to watching Evangel’s future unfold under his leadership.”
Rakes is a graduate of Central Bible College and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministries and a master’s degree in Biblical Literature. He also holds a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Biola University, with additional doctoral studies in management.
Rakes previously served as chair of the board of trustees at Oral Roberts University, and is a member of the global ministry resource organization Empowered21, where he serves as liaison to Spirit-empowered scholars.
He is also a writer and published author. His latest book, “Surrendered and Unafraid: The Flourishing of Faith During Seasons of Suffering” is set to release this fall through the FEDD Agency. Charisma House published his first book titled “Slings and Stones” in 2015.
“Dr. Rakes’ life and ministry are a testament to his commitment to helping others fulfill their God-given callings. His investment in the lives of students at Evangel University will help build a brighter future,” said Rev. Doug Clay, Evangel University trustee and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
Rakes and his wife, Darla, have a daughter, Whitney, who served as worship pastor at WSF until her passing in 2019 at the age of 27 after a courageous battle with cancer. They also have a son, Brayden, who is married to Heather, with one grandchild, Blake, and another grandchild, Beau, on the way.
“Evangel is a lead institution for our movement,” said Rakes. “The distinction and impact EU graduates have around the world is far-reaching. My wife and I are very enthusiastic and honored to now have the opportunity to serve at the place of our educational roots.”
To learn more about Dr. Mike Rakes, visit evangel.edu/president.
Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,200 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master and doctoral degrees.
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