Harold D. Singleton, who served as president of one of the first Seventh-day Adventist conferences established to serve African American congregations in the United States, died February 6 at a care facility in Maryland. He was 101.
Singleton was the sole surviving member of the first presidents of the nine Regional conferences in the Eastern United States in the 1940s. He was the first president of the South Atlantic Conference, formed in 1945, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. He also served as president of the Northeastern Conference, then based in New York City, from 1953 to 1962. He was then elected to serve at the church's world headquarters as secretary of the Regional Department, a department discontinued in 1979.
"We are very grateful to Elder Singleton for his pioneering work in the South Atlantic and Northeastern Conferences," Adventist world church President Jan Paulsen said in a statement. "His leadership at the church's world headquarters as Regional Department Secretary was highly effective and very much appreciated."
Calvin Rock, a former vice president of the world church, described Singleton's calm leadership style as "thoughtful" and "careful."
"He wasn't flamboyant, but his leadership showed by his impeccable record for picking pastors, like E.E. Cleveland and Maurice Battle," Rock said. "He was always on target for selecting brethren to join the ministry." Several of his ministerial candidates went on to become conference presidents.
Harold Douglas Singleton was born in 1908 in Brunswick, Georgia, and graduated from then Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, during the Great Depression. He later continued his education at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska and at the Adventist Theological Seminary, then located in Washington, D.C.
Upon entering the ministry, Singleton gained a reputation as a church planter, pastoring churches in Tennessee, Florida, and the Carolinas.
Later he served the Southern Union Conference as Regional Department secretary, overseeing the church's work among African Americans in the South. In 1962, he was elected to serve at the church's world headquarters, then in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he stayed until his retirement in 1975. Later, he was often called into active service to pastor churches.
Singleton is survived by Mary, his wife of 71 years, six children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
--Reporting by Ansel Oliver and Adventist Review staff