Reverend Marvin H. Hansford
By Harold Jaco, Jr.
February 10, 1912 was a day just like all others. There were children playing, parents working, people packing wood in their heaters to keep warm. In eastern Arkansas, near the fabled “Hot Springs” which brought people from all around the world to bathe in their ostensibly healing flow, a little baby was born. Little did the parents, nor the city, nor even the imps of hell know the impact this child would have on the work of the Lord when his mother first took him in her warm and tender hands and loved her child. Proudly she spoke a name which would be comfort and inspiration to thousands during the next seventy-six years: Marvin Harold Hansford. Like all parents, Joseph and Laura Hansford could were so proud of their baby boy. Eight years later a brother, James, completed the little family. Later, in a tragic railroad accident, Joseph Hansford, Marvin’s father, was killed.
In 1929, young Marvin, now seventeen years old, surrendered his life to the Lord and felt the joy of full salvation in a meeting conducted by Reverend C. P. Kilgore, father of Reverend James Kilgore. He repented of his sins, was baptized by immersion in the precious name of Jesus Christ and received the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost. Two years later, at the age of nineteen, Marvin felt his call into the ministry. After a brief period of preparation, he launched out into his preaching ministry in 1932.
Also, in 1932 Brother Hansford attended the General Conference of the Pentecostal Church, Inc. (predecessor to the United Pentecostal Church, International) which was held in Little Rock, Arkansas. During the Conference Brother Hansford met a young lady who captured his attention and held it for the next fifty-six years. The only daughter of Reverend Grover C. McDaniel, Catherine, was the lady of his dreams.
For four years he evangelized, preaching itenerately in revivals and crusades as the opportunities became available. During this time, he was asked to fill in for Brother Grover McDaniel at the First Pentecostal Church of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Brother McDaniel had taken sick and needed time for recovery. This was his first taste of pastoral ministry. He served for nine months. While there, his affection for Catherine became strong enough that he proposed marriage, and she accepted. On August 8, 1934, he was married to Miss Catherine Clair McDaniel. The following article was taken from the newspaper…
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The marriage of Miss Catherine Clair McDaniel to the Rev. Marvin Harold Hansford which was solemnized Wednesday afternoon, August 8, in Pine Bluff at the home of the bride’s brother, Ramond McDaniel, on South Poplar Street has been announced by the bride’s parents, the Rev. and Mrs. Grover C. McDaniel.
The service was read at 6 o’clock in the afternoon by the bride’s father, pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Louisiana, MO, at an improvised altar formed of ferns and lighted with white candles.
The house was decorated with choice summer flowers and greenery. Only members of the immediate families were present.
The bride’s wedding dress was a pretty model in pink crepe with white accessories. Mrs. Hansford, an attractive brunette, is the only daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. McDaniel, and is a graduate of the local high school.
The bridegroom is the eldest son of Mrs. P. R. Hansford of Hot Springs and is a young minister of splendid ability. He is a graduate of the Hot Springs high school.
An informal reception for the wedding guests was held immediately following the ceremony.
In November 1934, Bro. Hansford was elected pastor in Clarksville, Missouri. He served the Clarksville church for only six months, and then moved on in May 1935 to serve a church in East Alton, Illinois. In 1936 the Hansford’s moved to McClure, Illinois where they served that congregation for just less than five years. At Thanksgiving time in November 1939, as the nation was stumbling toward engagement in World War II, Brother Hansford accepted the challenge of the church in Iuka, Mississippi, where he served as two years. In 1941 he felt the call of God to go to Amory, Mississippi and begin a Home Mission work. The great church in Amory, continues to serve this rural Mississippi Community even today. Reverend Coy Hill is the present pastor there. Remaining in Amory for two years, he was able to leave a church “on its feet” and poised to grow.
Later, in April 1943, the Hansford’s moved to Laurel, Mississippi and pastored the First Pentecostal Church. For fifteen and one-half years he labored in this southern Mississippi town, building a strong congregation. Members of the Laurel congregation often expressed their confidence in this man of God and were deeply moved when he reported the Lord was moving them on to Memphis, Tennessee.
While serving the Laurel church, Brother Hansford undertook an additional monumental task. The burden of Brother T. C. Montgomery had come to fruition with the development of the Tupelo Children’s Mansion. Brother Ross, from Camden, Tennessee built the first two buildings of the Mansion Campus. Brother Montgomery and Brother Hansford had together waded high weeds on the land which now is the spacious campus of TCM. In 1950 Brother Hansford was asked to serve in an interim capacity as the very first Superintendent of the Tupelo Children’s Mansion until a successor could be elected. He spent about a year serving both as pastor at Laurel and Superintendent at Tupelo. He turned the responsibility of the Mansion over to Reverend and Mrs. L. J. Hosch, who were elected to serve.
During nearly twenty years of ministry in Mississippi, Brother Hansford served faithfully on the District Board, as District Secretary, and as District Superintendent. (Brother Hansford served as District Secretary, then was elected District Superintendent, serving two years in that capacity, then was re-elected as District Secretary, and served until he moved to Tennessee. Quoting from the July 1959 issue of the Mississippi District News, “This man’s influence has been a great factor in the growth of the Mississippi District as well as the institutions that are located within its boundaries. Brother Hansford has served the Pentecostal Bible Institute and the Tupelo Children’s Mansion since they were founded, as a member of their Executive Boards… The united best wishes from the entire Mississippi District go to our good friend and brother, Reverend M. H. Hansford, as he leaves our district and our prayers are for him to succeed in his new place of labor.”
In 1958 Brother and Sister Hansford moved to Memphis, Tennessee to begin a rich ministry to the Calvary United Pentecostal Church. Due to the urban renewal project in Memphis at the time, the old location of the Calvary church was purchased and demolished at 120 E. Parkway North. The church moved to a new and much improved location at the corner of North Parkway and Dunlap as it reached out to the city of Memphis. Working with Brother Hansford in the music ministry was the talented Verle Pilant, who, with his equally talented wife, Margie, gave a very special touch to the musical program.
One characteristics of M. H. Hansford was his ability to build a church staff of quality people. He surrounded himself with high caliber people to serve in various capacities. Names like Bob and Christine Lamply, Loren and Billy Beaty, Ruth and Dugan Cook, Duayen Tidwell, Butch and Sue Evans, and Jack and Ruth Holt, as well as many others, were his co-workers. He had a vision for growth and development. He was unwilling to allow the church program to “run itself” and just happen. Instead, he was pressing forward at all times with a quality effort to develop the work of God to its fullest! He was described by one person as being “Stately, Considerate, Compassionate, Gentleman, A Man of God, A Christian.” In everything from the stationary on which he wrote his letters, to intercession in the prayer room, these qualities could be observed in this great gentleman.
Long before anyone knew anything about the current Home Missions program of Mother/Daughter Church Planting, Brother Hansford pioneered the effort. Brother Vondas Smith, who later became a Missionary to Bolivia, felt the call to begin a new work in Whitehaven, a southern suburb of Memphis. When he approached Brother Hansford about the calling, Brother Hansford gathered together all the people from that area who attended his church and asked them if they would like to go and be a part of developing a church in the Whitehaven area. In one night, service, Brother Hansford and Brother W. M. Greer commissioned some 20 people to leave the Calvary Church and go to help Brother Vondas Smith begin the Whitehaven Untied Pentecostal Church. That church grew and developed and is now one of the largest congregations in the Tennessee District United Pentecostal Church. It is currently known as The Pentecostal Church of Memphis. In its infancy, and for the first entire year, the Calvary church provided for the rent and utilities to get the church started.
Soon after he had arrived in Memphis, he was elected to serve on the District Board as presbyter of what was then Section 7. Then only a few months later the brethren of the Tennessee District prevailed upon Brother Hansford to serve them as District Secretary. Being elected in 1959, he served continuously until his retirement in April 1980. In all, he served the Calvary Church for some eight and one-half years.
When the load of his Pastoral Ministry and that of District Secretary became too much, Brother Hansford felt the Lord lead him to resign Calvary UPC in Memphis. On June 7, 1967, Brother Hansford moved to the First Pentecostal Church on Lexington Avenue in Jackson, Tennessee as their new pastor. A number of people are still around who were a part of that congregation. Claude Vantreese was the song director. Family names such as Estes, Witherspoon, Fullington, Gilliam, Brickey, Bridger, Kemp, Bryant, Kuykendall, Lester, Johnson, Victory and a host of others were part of the congregation he served in Jackson for five years before the District asked him to give his full time to the office of District Secretary.
In January 1972 the District Board asked Brother Hansford to resign from his pastoral ministry and serve full time as District Secretary. This was a big step for the Hansford’s, but after a time of prayer and consideration, saw that this was the will of God and made the step of faith. Having to move from the parsonage of the First Pentecostal Church, a comfortable home on Russell Road, he and Sister Hansford purchased the lovely house where she still lives at 26 Pecan Circle in South Jackson.
Across the street from the Bemis Pentecostal Church on Morton Street, is a small building on the back lot of a residential house. At one time that building served as the Tennessee District Office of the United Pentecostal Church. In that building, Brother W. M. Greer, District Superintendent, and Brother M. H. Hansford shared one desk on which to do the work of the District. Later on, Brother Hansford began writing checks to the builders who built the present District Office for the Tennessee District at 31 Harts Bridge Road. The receipts from the construction of that building are all still on file, many with the neat flowing handwriting of M. H. Hansford on them.
As District Secretary, Brother Hansford was instrumental in providing developing several improvements in the accounting system of the Tennessee District. His stamp is on many of the official records of the District. The desk he first used for the District is still on display at the District Office in the Historical Room, along with a number of other interesting exhibits concerning the life and ministry of this great man of God.
During his full-time service to the Tennessee District, Brother and Sister Hansford served as Interim Pastor to a number of congregations in the Tennessee District. Among them are the Bemis Pentecostal Church and the East Dyersburg Pentecostal Church. His name is revered by those whom he served during those brief pastoral periods where he was able to hold churches together in the absence of a permanent pastor. Brothers Wendell Walker, Burley Flatt and Boss Lee of the East Dyersburg Church spoke of the wonderful stability of the Church during the pastoral vacancy of about nine months, when the Hansford’s faithfully drove up every Sunday to serve the Church. Sister Flatt still today tells of the meals they shared together, when Brother Hansford demonstrated how much he liked her “million-dollar pie;” and the afternoons when the Hansford’s would rest in their spare bedroom before the evening service. Many a church has been “held together” by the solid spiritual leadership which he gave them under these circumstances.
After his retirement, having served the Tennessee District as Secretary for more than 21 years, Brother Hansford continued his ministry with itinerate preaching engagements wherever and whenever needed. He kept up this pace until his health began to fail. Finally, on June 1, 1988, the Lord called Brother Hansford to that home He had been preparing for him for so long. If the devil had known back in February of 1912 how profitable this man’s life would be to the work of the Lord, he would have trembled at the thought!
During 56 years of Apostolic Ministry, Brother Hansford spent more than 50 of those years in almost continuous service to the Church in one official capacity or another. Note this list of places of service. In Illinois he served on the District Board. In Mississippi he served on the District Board, as District Secretary, and District Superintendent. In Tennessee he served on the District Board, and as District Secretary. Nationally, Brother Hansford served for ten years on the Board of Christian Education, both as Secretary and as Chairman. He served the Tupelo Children’s Mansion on the Board of Directors, the Long-Range Planning Committee, the Honorary Board, and as Interim Superintendent.
At the funeral of M. H. Hansford, he was surrounded by some of his closest friends and those who loved him dearly. Participating in the funeral, at the Bemis Pentecostal Church, were Horace Simmons and Marilyn Thomason in charge of the music, with singing by the Harmony Girls Trio, Janet Roberts, and Rev. L. H. Hardwick. Scripture and prayer were offered by Rev. Wayne Chester, District Secretary, and eulogizing comments were offered by Reverend W. M. Greer, District Superintendent Emeritus, Reverend L. H. Benson, District Superintendent, and Reverend Stephen Drury, Superintendent of the Tupelo Children’s Mansion. The funeral message was offered by Reverend Bill Luther, Pastor of the Bemis Pentecostal Church. Following the service, Brother Hansford was laid to rest in the Highland Memorial Gardens in Jackson, Tennessee. One comment made by Reverend W. M. Greer seemed to sum things up for everyone: “No man is indispensable; but some men are irreplaceable.”
The following memorial was published in the Pentecostal Herald concerning the life and ministry of Brother Hansford:
Ten years after his decease, a considerable honor was conveyed upon Brother Hansford posthumously by the Tupelo Children’s Mansion. The following article is from the Pentecostal VOICE of Tennessee, May, 1998…
Honor Bestowed on Rev. M. H. Hansford
During the Board Meetings at the Tupelo Children’s Mansion in February 1998, a very special honor was conveyed upon Bro. M. H. Hansford. The Administration Building on the Campus was named the “M. H. Hansford Administration Building”.
Bro. Hansford and his widow, Sis. Catherine Hansford were life-long supporters of the Mansion. Indeed, Bro. Hansford was the very first Superintendent of TCM back during its first year of existence. Bro. Hansford worked hand-in-hand with Bro. T. C. Montgomery to help bring the Mansion from a dream to a functioning reality.
From its humble beginnings, TCM has grown into a thriving campus with nearly 30 buildings. Scarcely would it have been possible to envision the special effect the Mansion has had on the lives of numerous young people who have been privileged to have Mansion Parents.
Bro. Hansford was a member of the TCM Board from its beginning to the conclusion of his life. He was a part of the decisions and developments of the properties and staff. Nothing can be done at TCM which is not in some way affected by the gentle presence of this man of God who so loved the work of the Mansion.
How very fitting that the Administration Building should be named in his honor. Sis. Hansford, we salute you for the things you have given to our special children of the United Pentecostal Church from around the world.
In the Pentecostal VOICE of Tennessee for years there was a column entitled “From the Secretary’s Desk – by Rev. M. H. Hansford. The following, and concluding passage is a quotation from the September 1970 issue of the VOICE…
The beautiful story recorded in Acts 3:1-8 contains one of the most blessed lessons one can learn. Peter and John truly found out that “It is more blessed to give than receive.” They had been taught this truth through their association with Christ, but now they had experienced it in their own ministry.
The truth is obvious that we really only possess that which we give away. We are stewards of this life and its possessions. These become valuable only as we use them for God’s glory. When Peter and John had prayed for the lame man and he was healed, he went immediately into the temple, leaping and praising God!
Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years, but the Bible sums up his life in three short verses. There is no merit in living a long time unless we do something worthwhile with that time which has been allotted us. One day when Edward VII was Prince of Wales, he was taking a ride, and an old woman, poor, ragged and hungry, not knowing who he was came up to his carriage and asked for help. Reaching down in his pocket he said, “I will give you a picture of my mother.” The woman was greatly surprised when he drew out a gold coin, stamped with the image of Queen Victoria, and gave it to her.
We may not be able to give a large amount of money but such as we have, we should give. God does not require the unreasonable, only that which we have in our possession. Christ said, “Freely ye have received, freely give.” He also said, “With the same measure ye have measured to others, it shall be measured to you again.”