Manuel C. Avila, emeritus pastor of Springfield Baptist, Delco

Manuel C. Avila
Manuel C. Avila
Posted: March 15, 2012

Manuel C. Avila Jr., 86, of Exton, emeritus pastor of Springfield Baptist Church in Delaware County, died of heart failure Sunday, March 11, at Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville.

Pastor Avila grew up in New Bedford, Mass., the son of Portuguese immigrants. He and his future wife, Madelyn Rebello, met as children at First Portuguese Baptist Church in Fall River, Mass., where his father was pastor.

In the summer, while in college during World War II, Pastor Avila worked in armaments production, transporting explosive powder for grenades. After the war, he made washing machines in the same factory.

He and his wife married in 1947, shortly after he graduated from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.

He then earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and later a master's degree in sacred theology from Temple University.

In June 1950, he was ordained at Brandywine Baptist Church in Chadds Ford, where he was pastor until 1957, when he was appointed to Springfield Baptist Church.

Besides ministering at Springfield Baptist, Pastor Avila was secretary to the Delaware County Fundamental Ministerium; served as chaplain at Taylor Hospital; chaired the steering committee at Jezreel Baptist Church in West Chester; and was director at the Junior High Camp at Sunnybrook. He was past president of the Portuguese Baptist Convention of New England; the Springfield Ministerium; and the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware. He was moderator of the Riverside Baptist Association, and he served on the board and as past president of the Alumni Association of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1981.

He mentored many young people, and several became ordained ministers, his family said.

After retiring in 1991 from Springfield Baptist, Pastor Avila served as interim pastor at area churches, including First Baptist in Malvern, Middletown Baptist Church in Media, and Belmont Baptist in Broomall.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Reuben; daughters Elizabeth Sharpe and Deborah; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. A son, Paul, died in 1972.

Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. at Kovacs Funeral Home, 530 W. Woodland Ave., Springfield, and from 9:30 a.m. until the funeral at 11 at Springfield Baptist Church, 184 N. Norwinden Dr., Springfield, Pa. 19064. Burial will be in Brandywine Baptist Church Cemetery, Chadds Ford.

Donations may be made to the Paul Avila Scholarship Fund at Springfield Baptist Church.

Contact Sally A. Downey

at 215-854-2913 or

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