Morristown’s Bethel A.M.E. Church to remember late pastor, Clarence Crawford, March 22

The late Rev. Clarence B. Crawford, former pastor of Morristown's Bethel AME Church.
The late Rev. Clarence B. Crawford, former pastor of Morristown's Bethel AME Church.


From the Bethel A.M.E. Church:

The Rev. Dr. Clarence Crawford transitioned peacefully on March 11, 2019, in Baltimore County, MD. He was 91.

Born on May 18, 1927, in Manning South Carolina, he was the only child of the late Clarence C. Crawford and Beulah O. Walker.

Educated in the public school system, Crawford graduated from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg SC in 1947 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While there he became a member of Omega Si Phi fraternity.

Initially enrolled in law school, Crawford decided to answer the call to ministry instead and enrolled in Gammon Theological Seminary (ITC) in Atlanta, GA, where he obtained a Master of Theology degree.

Crawford began his ministerial career in the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. His initial pastoral appointments included St. Paul, Cambridge, MA; First Israel, Albany, NY; Bethel, Amityville, NY (now Copiague); and Bethel, Passaic, NJ.

While serving as pastor of Bethel Passaic, the minister met  Lira Mae Paulhill and they married on May 11, 1963, in Passaic, NJ. Their marriage was blessed with one son, Michael Crawford.

In 1966, Crawford transferred from the New Jersey Annual Conference to the Bermuda Annual Conference as was appointed to St. Paul, Hamilton, Bermuda.

Four years later, he transferred from the Bermuda Annual Conference to the New York Annual Conference and was appointed to Bethel Tabernacle in Brooklyn, NY.

After serving as pastor there for one year, he transferred to the New Jersey Annual Conference and was appointed to the newly constructed Bethel Church in Morristown.

Crawford served Bethel Morristown with distinction for 19 years. He was widely known for his erudite preaching style and powerful imagery. Members of Bethel often spoke of learning new words whenever he preached.

His colleagues in the African American Clergy Council of Morris County regarded him as a master proclaimer of the Word. On Dec. 19, 1987, Crawford, along with Presiding Elder Bynum C. Burton and Bishop Frank Cummings, celebrated the mortgage burning for Bethel’s third sanctuary.

He also obtained his Doctor of Theology degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York while serving in Morristown. And his wife won the Queens Contest of the Women’s Missionary Society.

In 1990, Crawford was appointed to the Mt. Pisgah AME Church in Jersey City, NJ. The following year his heart was broken, when his wife of 28 years transitioned from labor to reward.  He also served as Presiding Elder of the Camden Trenton District in the New Jersey Annual Conference and in the Philadelphia Annual Conference.

Crawford is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Lira. He survived by their son, Michael Crawford and grandchildren Brittany Alexandra Crawford, Mervyn Dominc Crawford and Bernard Christopher Crawford.

The family has requested to have the memorial service at Bethel Morristown on Friday, March 22, 2019, at 6:45 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family also requests donations be made to Bethel Morristown to defray burial costs.

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