KOKOMO—An historic leader in the Church of God In Christ (COGIC) made his transition recently, marking the passage of an era for the church in Indiana.
Superintendent John Darnell Hall made his transition May 22 in Kokomo at the age of 85.
Born May 29, 1927 in East Chicago, Ind., the fifth of 12 children born to Elder Lewis and Mother Betty Hall, he moved with his family to Kokomo in 1942. That same year, his father founded the Kennedy Street Church, making it the first COGIC in the city. After graduating from Kokomo High School, Superintendent Hall moved to Los Angeles, where he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, later serving in the Korean conflict.
During a COGIC Youth Congress in Los Angeles, he met the former Ardola Nann Graves. The two were united in holy matrimony on Oct. 21, 1949 and remained married for 47 years until her passing in August 1996. To that union was born one daughter, Etiwanda Yvonne Hall.
While early on, he worked in the construction industry for friends as a hod carrier and at Continental Steel Corporation, he continually worked in the church, initially as leader of testimony service. A gifted musician, singer, songwriter and poet, Superintendent Hall played tambourine and piano, mastering not only gospel music but ’40s to ’50s-era jazz and ragtime. In the church arena, he was a key member of a number of musical groups, including the Revelators—later known as the Hall Sinters—and the Grace Memorial Angelic Choir, later going on to found the COGIC Northern Indiana State Choir, now known as the C.E. Bennett Memorial Choir.
After his father’s transition from this life, Superintendent Hall worked under the leadership of his brother, Bishop Milton L. Hall, and was promoted to assistant pastor at Kennedy Street Church, later working with his brother to build Grace Memorial COGIC.
On Oct. 30, 1994, Hall—now Elder Hall—was appointed pastor of Grace Temple COGIC in Fort Wayne, where he served for more than 13 years, eventually being promoted to superintendent, before retiring and returning to Kokomo.
In 1999, Superintendent Hall wed Dr. Ray Margaret Jackson and remained married to her until her passing.
During his years of service, Superintendent Hall won numerous awards and accolades including the Salutary Award as founder of the First Jurisdictional State Choir; Untiring Devotion and Commitment Award and World’s Greatest Pastor Recognition Award at Grace Temple among others.
He was appointed to the Executive Board of the 4th Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Indiana North Central COGIC and eventually promoted to the position of administrative assistant to Bishop Donald L. Alford Sr.
Loved ones who survive to cherish his memory include: his wife, Dr. Ray Margaret Hall of Kokomo; his daughter, Lady Etiwanda Yvonne (Pastor Harry L.) Beard of Kokomo; two stepsons, Howard (Kay) Witherspoon of Minneapolis, and William Bruce (Mary) Witherspoon of Lansing, Mich.; grandchildren, Dr. Devona Renee (Benjamin) Anderson of Kokomo, Rana Danielle (Julian) Dotson of Fort Washington, Md., DeAndra Rochelle Beard and Jeremy Larnell Beard of Kokomo; great-grandchildren, Jaina Grace Dotson, Jedaiah Zorian Beard, Caleb Augustus Dotson and Isaiah Elon Dotson; step-grandchildren, Miriam Elizabeth Wilson, Alice Jean Washington, Dorothy Sue Joseph, Charlotte An Corbett and Louise Jeanette James; sisters-in-law, Julia Mae all and Virginia Hall-Tarver; along with a host of relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Elder and Mother Lewis J. Hall; sisters, Betty Ruth Oliver Clark, Francis Hall and Helen Joyce Hall; sister-in-law Estella Hall; brothers, Superintendent James Leroy Hall, Bishop Milton L. Hall and Pastor Cleophus Hall; brothers-in-law, Pastor George Clark, Joel Washington, Brennan Joseph, Pastor Willie J. Wilson and John Corbett.
Funeral services were May 31, at Grace Memorial Institutional COGIC in Kokomo, followed by Jurisdictional services June 1 at the church and interment in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Kokomo. Arrangements were by Alford’s Mortuary, 122 Napier St., South Bend, Ind.
This article originally appeared in the June 12, 2013 print edition.