Dr. Harold Lovell Cleveland, Sr. was born in Chattanooga Tennessee on June 2, 1928 to the union of William C. Cleveland and Eunice Cleveland. The siblings are William Cleveland, former President of Southwest Region Conference, who preceded him in death, and Edward Earl Cleveland world renowned Evangelist, author and former Official of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
He graduated from Oakwood College in 1951. His leadership skills were evident early in his life as he was the organizer and first president of the Oakwood College United Student Movement. He received an Honorary Doctoral Degree of Divinity in 1971 from Union Theological Seminary, Birmingham Alabama. He was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers and Colloquium of Scholars at Morehouse College in 1995.
Dr. Cleveland met Elizabeth Carter in Chattanooga Tennessee while she was ingathering with an Oakwood College student group chaperoned by Inez Booth. They would fell in love and would marry on June 10, 1951. Together they would form a heaven blessed union that would last 56 wonderful years. They served as partners in ministry that would be a powerful tool in the hands of God in cities all across the United States of America. Elizabeth, of Bridgeport Connecticut, also a graduate of Oakwood College, is as consummate professional and served as an Educator for over 35 years. She also served in an Administrative capacity with her husband. To this union of 56 years were born Sharon Eunice, Michele Florence, Harold Lovell, and Denise Carrie.
Dr. Cleveland completed 51 years of gospel ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist church. He was ordained into the ministry in 1956. His ministry has covered the following areas of service: 28 years as a Pastor Evangelist, 12 years as a Conference President, 11 years as a Conference Departmental Director, he baptized over 5,000 persons into the Seventh-day Adventist church, built churches and schools valued in the millions of dollars, and set up one of the first Day Care Outreach Centers in North America. Outreach Ministry Centers have always been a part of his Pastoral Ministry to the underprivileged.
Dr. Cleveland also served on numerous Boards and Committees during his years of service. He served: as a member of Oakwood College Board of Trustees, as a member of Riverside Hospital Board of Trustees, as member of the Kettering Hospital Board of Trustees, as a member of the Columbia Union College Board of Trustees, as a member of Pine Forge Academy Board of Trustees, as a member of Harding Hospital Board trustees, as well as various Board and Committees over the years. He served as Director of Church Ministries for the South Central Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He was a licensed marital counselor.
Dr. Cleveland’s preaching skills were legendary. Often before his sermon his prayer would be that the Lord would let the Word of God (bible) be made flesh and live. Thousands heard the Word and were blessed, baptized, and uplifted. Scores of notable pastors, church administrators, counselors, religious educators and professionals in allied fields proudly proclaim Harold Cleveland as the source of their inspiration, their training and their example in ministry.
This obituary will not permit a full and detailed accounting of the vast accomplishments and contributions under God during the life of Dr. Harold Cleveland Sr. We include three of the many areas of his ministry of which he was most proud.
First, he served as President of Allegheny West Conference of Seventh-day Adventists from 1972 until 1983. During this time God blessed the work in that part of the vineyard. The conference membership grew from 5,632 to 9,500. Along with this magnificent growth, tithe gain tripled. During his leadership 11 new congregations were started, 20 churches were built or purchased totaling in the millions of dollars, 18 churches were renovated, and 88 new workers were added including pastors, teachers, bible workers, lay pastors and credentialed literature evangelists. Additional works during his leadership at Allegheny West are as follows: Harvest Celebration-approximately 4,000 members attended this conference-wide lay evangelism training, and Pastor’s Incentive Program— a program that celebrated ministry and awarded pastors for their diligence and labor. But beyond the brick and mortar the most lasting legacies of Dr. Cleveland were the lives he touched, the sermons preached and the love and caring with which he ministered to the membership of God in Allegheny West.
Secondly, Dr. Cleveland built a state of the art church facility in Atlanta Georgia 1963, the Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church. One of the greatest miracles of this church was that 98% of the funding for this facility was raised by Dr. Cleveland and the congregation which was unprecedented. This was the largest built Adventist African American church in the south at that time. God blessed the work of his hands in 5 public meetings he baptized 1,037 souls into the kingdom, necessitating the new church building. The day he was introduced as pastor he was greeted by 97 members, the day he bade them farewell in 1967 there were over 1,300 members in attendance. He completed 7 full years as pastor, during which: extensive evangelism was carried on, The Daycare Center was founded, the second Building of Berean Academy was built, Full-time offices for Treasurer, Assistant Pastor, and secretary were opened, an Organizational Structure was put in place, the former church structure was constructed, three new churches were organized Boulevard Drive, Covington and Marietta, a building was purchased for Boulevard Drive, the Berean church was integrated into the mainstream of Atlanta, built for $375,000 and was sold by the present congregation with a value of $2,000,000.
Thirdly, Dr. Cleveland thrived as a pastor and his ministry was blessed wherever he labored. He pastured the Glenville Seventh-day Adventist church in Cleveland, Ohio. Together with a dedicated membership the church was renovated, Ramah Jr. Academy was strengthened, and 519 were baptized. During his tenure at Glenville the church experienced a 30% growth in membership. Over the years he pastured in Valdosta, Thomasville, Bainbridge, Tallahassee, Deland, Ocala, Savannah (where he built a church), and Nashville. During his pastoral ministry 4 new congregations were established. The final church he pastored was New Life Church in Huntsville, Alabama. He pastored New Life from 1997 to 2002. Dr. Cleveland along with the dedicated membership enjoyed a rich ministry there. He retired in June 2002 after 51 years of service. One of the great elements of his ministry was that he had an uncanny ability to remember names of individuals he pastured or met through the years. On February 18, 2003 Dr. Delbert Baker, President of Oakwood College, dedicated a street in his name on the Oakwood College campus; H.L. Cleveland Way.
Dr. Cleveland will be remembered most by his family as a deeply spiritual man who loved God with all of his heart and proclaimed that love to the very last of his life. He not only loved God, but he lived that love in the home. He had a wonderful sense of humor. He was a faithful and caring husband. He was a father who took time to love his children, and grandchildren. Though the demands of his work were always present, he was never too busy for his family. He took time to give advice, share a humorous story of illustration, or when needed, he just listened. He will be greatly missed.
Dr. Cleveland leaves to mourn his loss, a loving wife Elizabeth Mattie Alice Cleveland, four children, Sharon, Michele, Harold II, and Denise, two sons-in-laws Christopher and Herman, Janice, nine Grandchildren, and six great grandchildren, Step Mother Florence Cleveland Custard, cousin Izora Graham and a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, extended family members, church family and friends.
Loving submitted by: The Family
Funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at the Oakwood College Seventh-day Adventist Church (7000 Adventist Blvd, Huntsville, Alabama 35810) with Elder Walter L. Pearson officiating. Interment will be held in the Oakwood Memorial Gardens. Dr. Harold Lovell Cleveland, Sr. will lie in repose one hour prior to funeral time.