Cleveland Donation Events

Date: November 8, 2007

Number in Attendance: 100-300

Style: Oral history

Location: Andrews University campus, Berrien Springs, Michigan

Brief: On November 8, 2007, Edward Earl Cleveland donated to the Center for Adventist Research his personal papers consisting of nearly 2,000 sermons, manuscripts, clippings, photographs, audio and visual recordings, artifacts and books. They are contained in 44 archival boxes and are described in the personal papers register. At the time of the donation, Cleveland also was interviewed and reflected on his life and ministry. The 40-minute interview is available through the Center.

Cleveland and his family personally came to campus to present his personal papers to the Center at a luncheon in his honor. Nearly 100 faculty and friends of Andrews attended the luncheon, hosted by Provost Heather Knight and Center for Adventist Research Director, Merlin Burt.  That evening, Cleveland inspired a capacity crowd with his preaching in the Seminary Chapel. The worship service was an opportunity for him to speak, as well feature a reading of his poetry.

Cleveland chose the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University because it was under the auspices of the General Conference and it teaches Seventh-day Adventist ministers from around the globe, regardless of race. Cleveland loves ministers and wants his records to be available to graduate-level students for their research, professional development, and spiritual growth.

Cleveland summed up his ministry in these words: “I have seen God for so long do so much with so little, I now believe He can do anything with nothing, meaning me.”

The video interview was an oral history where he told his reasons for choosing Andrews University to house his papers, sermon manuscripts, and memorabilia. He also reflected on his years of ministry and gave advice to future generations of Adventist pastors.

Problems Solved: The Center did not own equipment to record a video oral history. This was procured, a videographer hired, and the area for the interview set up. Because of budget restrictions, I reached out to my contacts and borrowed lighting from the University photography department. I hired a recent college graduate who had a lot of experience to record the video. And for a location, I used the Center’s museum area, their own furniture, and fake plants and items for the donated collection to dress the set. Despite the challenges of filming in an area with background noise and unideal glass reflections, the resulting video was good.

Cleveland was an accomplished speaker, book author, and also poet. We knew we wanted to feature his poetry during the evening worship service. I went through his donated collection and selected a poem for reading. And then I remembered a student who had done an exceptional job reading poetry at an event I had attended. I contacted him and he was willing to participate. His reading was very well received by the audience, who clapped and cheered, and also by the author, Cleveland, himself.