History of the Restoration Movement


  Clarence L. Wilkerson
  1888-1949
 
  The Life Of C.L. Wilkerson
 

     This brother holds a place among the great preachers of the church, and likely had no superior among his contemporaries as a Christian. Brother W. B. Ragsdale said, "Perhaps no man was able to blend a great work and a pure life more beautifully than he." I heard Brother Wilkerson through two meetings at Walnut Ridge and Jonesboro, Arkansas. He produced his lesson with enthusiasm, putting his whole soul into the sermon. Brother Rue Porter called him a Masterful Preacher, saying in the Memorial Number of the Christian Worker of March 10, 1949, "I think it was in 1918 that I first met C.L. Wilkerson. We were both young preachers at the time, and I soon discovered that he was such a man as I both wanted and could be absolutely confidential with. Through the years that friendship and confidence grew and came to be a reality. Well educated, he was to me the best critic and the friendliest of all those who have helped me so much . . . . I never heard him utter one word which would be out of place in the pulpit. It was as a pulpiteer, however, that he was most attractive to me. I have never yet heard a man whose choice of words was more appropriate. His manner and style were without any objectionable feature."

     Brother G.K. Wallace said, "As a preacher, C.L. Wilkerson had few superiors. He understood an audience's situation, he knew how to make an appeal to more people to the obedience of the gospel, also, Brother Wilkerson knew his lesson."

     Brother Clarence L. Wilkerson was born July 26, 1888, at Wheeling, Arkansas. A graduate of Salem, Arkansas high school, he taught school one year; and, being under the influence of Brother S. C. Garner, entered the County Line Bible School to prepare to preach the gospel. After two years attending this school he entered Thorp Spring College, Thorp Spring, Texas. Already his preaching was a marked success. To further his work he next attended the National Teacher's Normal and Business College (now Freed-Hardeman University) for two years.

     In 1915, on the recommendation of Brother S. P. Fields, who was a classmate at County Line Bible School, he conducted a meeting for the Johnson and Dale congregation in Springfield., Missouri. He liked it there and enrolled in Southwest Missouri State College and continued in it for two years. The brotherhood began to realize his great power for Christ and began to call him from far and near for gospel meetings. His name became known in all directions in Northeast Arkansas.

     In 1920 he married Miss May Freeman of Springfield, Missouri. One daughter blessed their home, Mrs. Janice (Wilkerson) Edwards.

     Brother Joe H. Blue said, "I have known Brother C. L. Wilkerson ever since he was born. He grew up in the neighborhood where I was raised. He was one of the purest boys in every way I have ever seen. When E. M. Borden baptized him at the age of sixteen (1894), some of the neighbors said to Brother Borden, 'You preach that baptism is for the remission of sins. We don't know why you baptized that boy; he never had any sins.' He was one of our best preachers. He was a fine speaker and could preach the gospel in all its simple truths. He was very careful in his language. It was only pure English at all times. He was very clean in his dress. In all my travels I never heard one word said against his life, manners, or his preaching. Truly he was a Christian in every way."

     Visible results number thousand's baptized by this great preacher. Brother J. B. Barnett declared he heard a person ask Brother Wilkerson one time how many people he would baptize in a year's time when at his best. The answer was, "I never have kept a record, but I would suppose about a thousand per year." Eternity alone will reveal his good work of faith and labor of love.

     Brother Wilkerson was a staff writer for the Christian Worker and also contributed many articles to the other brotherhood papers.

     The last extended meeting of Brother Wilkerson seems to be in Charleston, West Virginia in 1947. He departed this life on February 15, 1949, at Springfield, Missouri having lived just a little more than three score years, but he was privileged to preach the Gospel for more than forty years.

     In accordance with his own wishes, his body was placed in the Mount Comfort Cemetery near Springfield to await the resurrection.

-Arkansas Angels, E. Boyd Morgan, pages136-138

 
 
 
  C.L. Wilkerson
       Clarence L. Wilkerson, one of our truly great preachers, was born at Wheeling, Arkansas on July 26, 1888. He enjoyed better educational opportunities than many of his contemporaries. After graduating from the Salem High School, he taught school for one year, then entered the County Line Bible school, then under the direction of S.C. Garner. He spent two years at County Line, then attended Thorp Springs College in Texas. He next attended the National Teacher's Normal and Business College in Henderson, Tennessee. (Now Freed-Hardeman University). He stayed here for two years and later did two more years of college work in the Southwest Missouri State College in Springfield, Missouri. Here he earned the B.S. degree.

     He obeyed the gospel under the preaching of E.M. Borden, Sr. at the age of sixteen. Late in his life Brother Borden told me of that baptism. He said that each morning he would meet an old atheist in the Post Office when he went for his mail. The old gentleman would ask each morning about the services the previous evening, and ask about who was to be baptized that day. (Most baptistries were in the creek, and often there would be a baptismal service each afternoon.) On this day he told the old gentleman that he was to baptize Clarence Wilkerson that afternoon. The atheist asked why. Brother Borden replied: "for the remission of his sins." The atheist responded, "That boy ain't got no sins." This attitude was shared by many who knew Clarence Wilkerson. Soon after his death, Rue Porter wrote of him: "I think it was in 1918 that I first me C.L. Wilkerson. We were both young preachers at the time, and I soon discovered that he was such a man as I both wanted and could be absolutely confidential with. Through the years that friendship and confidence grew to the very end of life. Well educated, he was to me the best critic and the friendliest of all those who have helped me so much... I never heard him utter one word that would be out of place in the pulpit." (Ark. Angels, by Boyd Morgan)

     In 1920 he was married to Miss May Freeman, of Springfield, Missouri. One child was born to them, Mrs. Janice Edwards. Sister Wilkerson still lives in Springfield. (1975)

     His preaching took him into all parts of the nation. I first became acquainted with him when I was a boy in Washita County, Oklahoma. He was called again and again to various churches in that area and perhaps held more meetings in Washita County than any other preacher. Thousands of people learned of The Lord and His way through his preaching and were persuaded to obey Him. Once when he was asked about the number he had baptized, replied that he had kept no records, but that he had baptized about a thousand people a year. I do not know how many of these lived in Western Oklahoma, but many of them did.

     In 1915, on the recommendation of S.P. Fields, a class mate at County Line, he conducted a meeting for the Johnson and Dale Street church in Springfield, Missouri. He liked it there, and soon Springfield was his home base. He attended college there, married there, and made it his home for the rest of his life. He never did any "local work." I do remember talking with him about it, and he expressed a preference for the meeting work in which he was so effective. Another factor that entered this decision was that he and his wife decided they would rather stay in Springfield than be moving from time to time, as men do who engage in "local work". Like all men who have to be away from home much of the time, he felt this sacrifice very keenly. In 1935 he was with us in a meeting in Sayre, Oklahoma while his companion lay seriously ill at home. It was with great difficulty that he stayed with the meeting. Only those who have made such sacrifices for The Lord can appreciate the meaning of them.

     In his work, Arkansas Angels, Brother Boyd Morgan speaks of his character and quotes several men who knew him well. In this vein he reports Brother W.B. Ragsdale as saying: "Perhaps no man was able to blend a great work and a pure life more beautifully than he." Rue Porter said: "It was as a pulpeteer, however, that he was most attractive to me. I have never yet heard a man whose choice of words was more appropriate. His manner and style were without any objectionable feature." G.K. Wallace said: "As a preacher, C.L. Wilkerson had few superiors. He understood an audience's situation, and he knew how to make an appeal to more people to the obedience of the gospel . . . Also, Brother Wilkerson knew his lesson." The last expression from Brother Wallace is one with which all who heard him would agree, for he knew and preached The Book. Brother Joe H. Blue said: "I have known Brother C.L. Wilkerson ever since he was born. He grew up in the neighborhood where I was raised. He was one of the purest boys in every respect that I have ever seen.

     I heard him preach in many meetings, and as long as he lived I took advantage of every opportunity to hear him. The last meeting in which I heard him was with the Eighth and Lee St. church in Lawton, Oklahoma. He had been in poor health for some time and felt keenly the fact that he was "not up to par," but his preaching was still far above average. In the autumn of 1948 I stopped in his home in Springfield to visit him. He had had another stroke and could not speak. He could hear and understand. He had not lost his keen and wonderful sense of humor. Though it was with great difficulty, he reminded me of a little joke we had enjoyed some years before. This was the last time I saw him. After a long illness he was called from this life on February 15, 1949 at the comparatively young age of sixty. For more than two thirds of his life he had faithfully preached The Word. He was not only a great man in the pulpit, he was also a writer of unusual ability, serving The Christian Worker and other publications. Boyd Morgan thinks his last meeting was in Charleston, West Virginia. At his request, his body was laid to rest in the Mount Comfort Cemetery near Springfield.

     Truly he was a great man and preacher, and though dead, "yet speaketh."

-Gospel Preachers Of Yesteryear, Loyd L. Smith, pages 423-425

 
  Directions To The Grave of C.L. Wilkerson 
 

From Springfield, Missouri travel north on State Highway H about 5 miles until it intersects with State Road KK. Continue on KK 9/10 mile where KK curves to the right/east. Turn right/south on Farm Road 66, 3/10 of a mile to church and cemetery on right. The address is 2376 Farm Road 66, Springfield, MO 65803.

  GPS Location Of Cemetery
  Lat. 37˚32.921864307269, Long. -93˚25.040817260742
  Google Map
 




Mount Comfort Cemetery





WILKERSON





Leola Mae
Apr. 11, 1895
May 21,1988



Clarence L.
July 26, 1888
Feb. 15, 1949




Grave Photos taken by Tom L. Childers
 
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