Clarence Baldwin

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Clarence William Baldwin (born May 14, 1906 in Indianapolis, Indiana; died June 7, 1981 in Indianapolis) served as pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church (now Pilgrim Church) between 1957 and 1962. During his tenure, Pilgrim Church left its former location on Eighth Avenue North and moved to Montclair Road in Mountain Brook.

Baldwin attained his ministerial degree from the Butler School of Religion in Indianapolis, an institution of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Ordained into the ministry of the Congregational Christian Churches (which became the United Church of Christ in 1957) in 1941, he served congregations in his hometown and two other Indiana towns, Dunkirk and Huntington. He served a stint as an Army chaplain during the Second World War also.

At the very meeting in which Pilgrim Church called him as pastor, the church sold the Eighth Avenue property to developers. It was during 1959 that work commenced to construct a new building for the congregation on what was known as the "McDavid Circle M Ranch." Work was completed on the building in November of that year; the following March witnessed a formal dedication by the church and national home missions board officials. That building was demolished in February 2008.

During Baldwin's tenure, Pilgrim Church began to experience the challenges and divisions created by the newly-formed UCC's commitment to Civil Rights. In 1962, Pilgrim played host to a meeting of the Southeast Convention (regional Congregational Christian/UCC body) in which representatives of the African-American Convention of the South (consisting of churches like First Congregational Christian Church) were in attendance; this marked the first occasion of correspondence that would ultimately lead to integration of those two bodies in 1965. Baldwin and First Church pastor Harold D. Long also initiated fraternal relations between the two congregations, which had previously had little or no contact, despite belonging to the same denominational tradition. Some members endorsed Baldwin's actions; others in the congregation did not and would eventually leave the church during the mid-1960s.

Baldwin resigned to accept a pastorate in Fort Worth, Tex. He served there and, later, in Sellersburg, Ind. before retiring in 1972.

References

  • obituary, 1982 Year Book, United Church of Christ.
  • Feazel, Frances T. (2003) A History of the Pilgrim Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, 1903-2003. self-published by the church.