St. John’s Church Elects Rev Albert Cleage Pastor

On January 9, 1945, my father wrote home about finding a church to pastor. The next month on February 18, (Unbeknownst to him.) Rev. Haecock resigned from his position as pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Mass.  Springfield was one of the places my father had been trying to get information about an opening. On August 28, 1945, my father was appointed by the standing committee of St. John’s as pastor.


St. John’s Pastor Resigns Position; Remains in Army

Capt Roland T. Heacock thanks Parishioners for Cooperation – Church to Seek Successor at Once

Chaplain Roland T. Haecock, pastor of St. John’s Congregational church who has been serving in the army chaplains’ corps at three Teas camps since October, 1942, read his resignation as pastor at the morning service yesterday. He did so “In order that St. John’s may not longer be handicapped by having its pastor absent from the church and in military service for an uncertain length of time.”

Action March 15
Capt. Heacock’s letter of resignation will be formally acted upon at a church meeting March 15, Search for a new permanent pastor will begin at once.  George Burr, chairman of the standing committee said last night.

Rev. Herbert L. Wilkins served as interim pastor at St. John’s until into last year when he left to take a Washington (D.C.) pastorate. In recent weeks ministers of Hope church have conducted the services.

Capt Heacock left last night for Camp Swift, Tex. by way of Tulsa Okla., where he will take part in a seven-day interracial institute held in the Tulsa schools by the Conference of Christians and Jews. Before becoming post chaplain at Camp Swift, he served at Camp Walters and Camp Hood.

Came here in 1927
Chaplain Haecock came to St John’s in 1927 as assistant pastor and became psstor in 1931. He and Mrs. Heacock have been active in many community activities, especially those contributing to inter-group understanding Mrs. Heacock and their three children will remain here for three children will remain here for some time, at least.

Chaplain Heacock’s letter of resignation as the pastor of this church to take effect immediately upon it’s acceptance by the church. I do this in order that St. John’s may not longer be handicapped by having his pastor absent from the church and in military service for an uncertain length of time.

“I would like at this time to express my appreciation to this church and to all it’s members for th years of confidence and good will, I have been enjoyed. I would like, specifically, to thank the loyal and faithful members of this church whose love and devotion have followed me through the nearly seventeen years I have lived among you.

“St. John’s Congregational churh has a place and a mission in this community. It’s history and it’s achievements have been notable and I am sure that in the days of the future its light will shine with even greater brightness than it has in the past.

“Upon the pastor, whoever he is, who shall be called to this pulpit I ask the blessing here and now of Almighty God. May he be wise, patient, and richly endowed with spiritual gifts. And I beg each and every on of you to give him the same confidence and good will and loyality, which you have, for so many years given to me.

“May the blessing of God continue to rest upon this church and its people.

St. John’s Church Elects Rev Albert Cleage Pastor
New Minister, Who Comes Here From San Francisco, succeeds Rev. Roland T. Heacock.

Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr., former organizer and copastor of the Fellowship interracial church of San Francisco, Cal., has been appointed pastor of St John’s Congregational church, it was announced last night by the standing committee.

Mr. Cleage will succeed Rev. Roland T. Heacock, former army chaplain, who resigned his post here.  Until recently he has been taking work toward his doctorate degree in the Graduate School of Religion of the University of Southern California at Los Angeles.

Following his graduation from Wayne university at Detroit, Michigan., Mr. Cleage worked as social caseworker with the department of public welfare before entering the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology.  While at Oberlin he was director of youth work at the Plymouth Congregational church of Detroit and served a student pastorate at the Union Congregational church of Painesville, O.

He was ordained by the Congregational association of Detroit and accepted a call to the Chandler Memorial Congregational church of Lexington, Ky., before returning to Los Angeles to study.

The new pastor emphasizes that in his opinion has a profound responsibility for bettering the conditions under which people live “Religiously I feel that preaching should be based upon the Bible in as far as possible, and at the same time should have significant current application to the problems of the world in which we live,” he wrote. “I place considerable emphasis upon those aspects of the church program which touch children and young people.”

The appointment will become effective next month.  Since February, St. John’s church has had several temporary pastors.

2 thoughts on “St. John’s Church Elects Rev Albert Cleage Pastor

  1. I like his understanding of what a church should be. After following his story and frustration at finding a church, it’s a pleasure to read about his success.

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