// history

6: Rev. Robinson, 1962-1966

Fields White to Harvest
The Pastorate of Rev. Robinson, 1962-1966

Rev. J. Groce Robinson

Approximately six months after Frazier resigned from North Cleveland’s pastorate, the church issued a call to Rev. J. Groce Robinson to become pastor. Coming from a North Carolina pastorate, Robinson was a welcome addition to the Cleveland community. Not only do many church members remember their fourth pastor for his excellent preaching, they also recall his intense concern for the spiritual welfare of the congregation. During his first three months as pastor, Robinson reportedly made three hundred visits to the homes in the North Cleveland community. One person seemingly cannot accomplish much, but Robinson was willing to do more than his share. However, the pastor believed that every member had an important duty. As he told the church on his first Sunday as her pastor:
“Many people feel there is nothing they can do in the church. Let me say that anything you can do for the honor and glory of Christ is great, regardless of how big or little you may think it to be, and if we will look, I am sure all of us can find something we can do.”
In this same statement, Robinson also urged members to continue an active prayer life. He believed that the strength of the church depended upon a congregation on its knees. Anything less, Robinson felt, would be dangerous to a church’s spiritual welfare.
When Robinson became North Cleveland’s pastor, the church had about 761 members. As a result, many individuals, including the pastor, believed there was a sincere need for a full-time minister of Music who would also assist the pastor in his ministerial dutues. Before 1963, the music program was important but not large enough to require a full-time church staff position. However, a desire for a full-time Music Minister was a current discussion topic throughout deacon meetings held during the first quarter of 1963. Little or no concrete action materialized though until July, when the church appointed T.J. Cawood, John Morrow, Lawrence Gentry, and Ralph Johnson as a committee to locate a Music Minister at a $100.00 weekly salary. In March 1964, the committee recommended that Elvis Brandon from Nashville be called as North Cleveland’s first full-time Minister of Music. As a part of the recommendation, Brandon’s title would also include ‘Assistant to the Pastor’. The following was a list of the job duties:

Elvis Brandon, Music Minister

1. The Minister of Music and Education Director will be under the supervision of the Pastor.
2. Will keep office hours designated by the Pastor (any deviation will be only through permission of the Pastor).
3. Will attend all church meetings and be required to be at the church at least 10 minutes before the regular starting hour. (S.S., T.U., and Others)
4. Will be on time for Youth Choir rehearsal (4:30 Sunday evenings). Will supervise fellowship for the Youth Choir from 4:30 to 5:30 P.M. Will rehearse Youth Choir, beginning no later than 5:30 PM each Sunday.
5. Will be on time for Junior Choir rehearsal (6:30 Wednesday evenings). Will rehearse Juniors and remain with them until parents arrive or until Prayer Service at 7:30 P.M.
6. Will be responsible to order all Church Literature (on time). Will see that all literature is placed in the respective departments at the proper time.
7. Will be responsible for seeing that all types of records are on hand and available to respective departments.
8. Will see that at least three visitor cards are placed in each pew no later than Saturday of weach week. (The cards must be clean, pencils sharpened, and offering envelopes placed with cards).
9. See that all hymn books are in proper places in Sanctuary. (Also that all Broadman Hymnals are in Basement Assembly Room. All American Hymnals in the Fellowship Hall.)
10. Will participate in visitation programs the same as any other member of our membership. (more often if called upon by the Pastor).
11. Will be responsible for all church fellowships, recreation, recreation equipment, and be available to assist any department in promoting this.
12. Will make bulletins and do all mimographing for church, kindergarten and as the need or request arises from the Pastor.
13. Responsible for the promotion of the R.A. work through the Pastor and Brotherhood President.
14. Will be on time in promoting the kindergarten and responsible to see that no child comes to school before someone is available to take care of them. (Will not leave without making sure every child is taken care of or is sent home properly).
15. Will cheerfully assist the pastor in whatever way the pastor may deem or feel necessary for the promotion of the work.
16. Will be available for visitation at any time.
17. Will make visits to hospital and be on the field always in the absence of the Pastor.
The addition of a new staff member and an increase in the church program to accomodate a larger membership, contributed to more financial concerns. In 1962, church expenditures were over $44,000. At this time, the church property included two buildings with a certain amount of indebtedness; two tracts of land rented for parking to the south of the church, and for recreation, to the north; and the church’s expenses including local expenditures and mission contributions through the State, Home and Foreign Mission Boards of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention respectively. The church had definitely undertaken a large financial responsibility. Even so, North Cleveland has always met its obligations. In 1950, the church was able to dispose of the note for indebtedness on the property where the Educational Building and a portion of the Sanctuary are located. Remarkably the church raised the money even though it was barely ten years old, and did not have a large treasury from which to draw.
With these financial concerns in mind, the church also recognized her spiritual potential and began to consider acquiring additional property. Through the foresight of her deacon body, North Cleveland gained a special interest in purchasing the two properties the church was then renting from private sources. After approximately a four-year period, the church finally purchased the land in similar transactions. The first property, owned by the Beck family, was located on the northern side of the church and had been rented by the chruch since 1958. In 1963, the family was willing to sell the entire property to the church under the conditions of a lifetime dowry for Mrs. Chloe Beck who still lived on the property or to sell the back portion of the property for $20,000. At that time, the church offered $10,000 for the back lot, but that price was not suitable. Eventually, the church and the Beck family negotiated an agreement, and the property was purchased by North Cleveland Baptist in 1965.
The church was also interested in acquiring the property located on the south side of the church. In 1962, the church was renting a portion of the property, owned by Mr. and Mrs. H.S. Albritton, for parking space. The entire property included not only a paved parking surface, but also a large building formerly occupied by the M.C. Headrick Supermarket, a local grocery. In December 1962, the church appointed a committee of Glen Greene (chairman), J.L. Myers and Hoyt Elrod to work out a suitable financial arrangement between the Albrittons and the church. However, due to other financial matters, the church did not purchase the property until April 19, 1996. At that time, the church paid $65,000 for the entire tract of land. Later, North Cleveland decided to lease one side of the former supermarket, and remodel the other half for use as classrooms. In 1969, after fire had gutted the interior, the church eventually renovated the entire facility for church use. Presently, the Educational Annex houses the church kitchen, a large fellowship hall, the church library, assembly rooms, and numerous classrooms.

SOARING STEEPLE: Workmen swing the new $6,500 steeple into place atop the North Cleveland Baptist Church this morning. (Banner Photo — Hunter)

During these property acquisitions, North Cleveland also sough to enhance the beauty of the sanctuary. For this reason, a steeple was added to the front of the building. Interest for a steeple began in 1963, and the church elected a Steeple Committee with Hoyt Elrod as chairman to investigate the church’s opinion on erecting a steeple, and the evaluate the financial aspects of the project. During the April church business meeting, Mrs. Virginia Tatham contributed $1,000 in memory of her husband, Jack Tatham, to begin a Memorial Steeple Fund. This move fostered a fund drive for the steeple in which individuals contributed money in memory of loved ones. Members gave money used in the Memorial Steeple Fund in memory of the following: (given in chronological order)
J.H. Tatham, Mrs. Lillian Jones, Mrs. Marie Wheeler, Mr, and Mrs. George Clayton, Mrs. Glennie Norwood, Jess Morrow, H.L. C. Graves, W.K. Graham, Carl H. Smith, Mrs. Mary L. Visage, Ronnie McElrath, Mr. and Mrs. Vance Ragsdale, Mrs. Mae Logan, Mr. and Mrs. THomas F. Cawood, Alden W. Harris, Dorothy June Vance, James Fox Sr., Fred C. Fuller, Rev. Joseph A. Boring, Mrs. Mildred J. Boring, and Cecil D. Edgeman.
The steeple was financed from this fund, and from other financial arrangements agreed upon by the church. In 1965, the church approved a steeple design, and authorized a local builder, Eddie Mital , to build the steeple. This steeple was later destroyed by a tornado on April 3, 1974. Later that year, members financed the building of the present steeple from insurance receipts. (The steeple is 32 feet high and weighs more than 3,000 pounds.)

Steeple destroyed by a tornado on April 3, 1974.

In providing for her pastor, North Cleveland sold the old pastorium on Franklin Avenue in March 1963 for $6,000. In September, she purchased a new home for Rev. Robinson for $16,000. The pastorium was located on Pryor Drive in the East Cherokee Gardens section of Cleveland. The deacons had tried to locate land large enough upon which to build a house, but the cost was too expensive, and they purchased the Pryor Drive property instead.
Although he had struggled with the decision to remain at North Cleveland, Rev. Robinson finally submitted to God’s call to go elsewhere. Using Philippians 1:9-11 to defend his position, he also quoted the following poem:
“I hear a voice you cannot hear which says I must not stay, I see a hand you cannot see which beckons me away.”
Although his resignation was not entirely unexpected, North Cleveland received Robinson’s decision with great regret. He had led the church with strength and had illustrated a fine example of christian charity.
Rev. Robinson’s great spiritual leadership and dedication continued at North Cleveland until September 5, 1966, when he resigned to accept the pastorate of the Longview Park Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. In his resignation statement, Robinson told his congregation that his ministry at North CLeveland was one of his best pastoral experiences.

Rev. Robinson and Deacons 1964-1965