CSM Overton Clarence promoted to Glory
CSM Overton Clarence
CSM Overton Clarence, a great man of faith and vision who paved the way for The Salvation Army to open a work in The Marshall Islands, was promoted to Glory February 27, 2004.
“All mourn his passing, but rejoice that he is now with his Lord Jesus and has been welcomed home,” said Major Benton Markham, the Army’s first officer appointed to Majuro.
Overton Clarence approached The Salvation Army in 1976 with a vision of the Army being a mighty force for the Lord in the Marshall Islands.
In 1977 the territorial commander sent an “exploratory committee” to meet with Clarence and give a report of the potential. The visit and report were positive; over the next three years communications between the Hawaiian Islands Division and Clarence continued and in 1981 Majors Ben and Pearl Markham volunteered and were appointed to open the work in the Marshall Islands. There was an immediate bonding between Majors Markham and Overton and Ineko Clarence. He soon became the first soldier of the Marshall Islands and shortly thereafter became the first corps sergeant major of what was later to become the Rita Corps.
As he believed the Lord would work miracles through the Army, the work began to grow. As new converts came within the ministry of the corps they were trained for local leadership. The Rita Corps now has over 300 soldiers and continues to grow; it has been the driving force for the opening of the Laura, Ebeye, Jaluit and Jabor Corps in the Marshall Islands.
“The vision of CSM Clarence has continued to be fulfilled in the commissioning of 13 envoys who have provided leadership to the five corps over the last several years,” said Divisional Commander Major Ralph Hood. “One serves as the assistant coordinator for all of the Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islands’ corps have also sent three cadets (Mitham and Angela Clement and Ella Lani) to Crestmont College; today they serve as captains in the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands.
“He was the strongest advocate of the development of local officers by a concentrated training program to make the soldiers the best they can be for the Lord,” noted Hood. His vision became a reality during the time Captains Charles and Shari Fowler were in the Marshall Islands.
Now in its fourth year, the “Marshall Islands’ Leadership Training Center” attracts a limited number of quality potential leaders to attend a full year of concentrated training at the Rita Corps and Training Center. The class of 2003 had seven graduates last August at the Second Annual Family Camp with 532 registered delegates attending the weekend of celebration with Lt. Colonels Donald and Debi Bell and Majors Ralph and Ivy Hood present.
As part of the weekend, the new “Overton Clarence Christian Education Center” was dedicated to the honor and glory of God and as a fitting tribute to the man whose vision had become a reality. When the bronze plaque was uncovered and presented, CSM Overton Clarence wept for sheer joy. Later that evening, music groups from each of the five corps participated in a musical celebration with over 600 people in attendance and over 100 musicians praising the Lord.The depth of commitment of the people today is a result of the vision of this one man who believed that if “The Army will come to the Marshall Islands it will be an exceeding great Army.” Thank you Sergeant Major Overton Clarence for fulfilling your calling and leading the charge for this to be an exceeding great army.
Messages of condolence may be sent in care of the Rita Corps to: Mrs. Ineko Clarence, P.O. Box 1106, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960.
He leaves his widow, Ineko Clarence and children Mary Alice, Marytee, Winston, Sekiko, Kosaki, Lyndon and Evangeline. Messages of sympathy may be sent to: Mrs. Ineko Clarence, P.O. Box 1106, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960.