21 Jan On This Day in UB History: January 21
George Daniel Fleming was born January 21, 1890, in Ionia County, Mich. He was one of the United Brethren giants of the 1900s–missionary, pastor, missions director, author, mentor, and prayer warrior. Many knew him as “Mr. Missions,” a fitting title for the man who headed our mission work for 25 years.
Fleming became a Christian at age 13 under the ministry of his father, a UB pastor. In 1911, at age 22, he and his wife of 11 months, Daisy, sailed for Sierra Leone, where he became principal of the 120-student school at Danville. After 13 months, they were sent to Bonthe to begin a girls’ boarding school.
Altogether, the Flemings spent 20 years–five terms–as missionaries, returning to the States in 1932. After a few years pastoring a church, Fleming was elected as the denomination’s General Secretary of Missions (what we now call Director of Global Ministries). During his tenure, we opened mission fields in Honduras, Jamaica, and Hong Kong. He continued in that office until retiring in 1961. He then wrote two books about the history of the Sierra Leone mission.
Those who knew George Fleming recognized him as a man who lived his life as though in the presence of God.
Bishop Clyde W. Meadows treasured his many late-night talks with George Fleming, as they reviewed the church and the opportunities before them. He wrote, “He was a man of God, and was a real bishop—encouraging, correcting, quietly steering the work of the Kingdom of God….Pastor of pastors, bishop of souls, a leader always abounding in the work of the Lord. Thank God for this man who in his life, ministry, words, and attitude showed us the Lord Jesus Christ.”