Henry H. Hayden: Great-grandfather, Civil Rights advocate, pastor, university chaplain

From left, Pastors Chris Breedlove and Henry Hayden
Henry Hayden’s daughter Deirdre Hayden Clausen shared with us her father’s obituary, which ran in the Claremont Courier:
The Rev. Henry Hayden, of Claremont’s Pilgrim Place, died after a brief illness on Feb. 17, 2018, at the age of 99.

He led a distinguished life both as a parish minister and university chaplain, his family shared. Ordained as a Protestant minister with the Congregational Church (now the United Church of Christ), Rev. Hayden served God and his fellow man with dedication and distinction for over 70 years. He was active throughout his life, filling it with art, music, family, ministry, friendships and a passion for social justice and inclusion.

Rev. Hayden was born October 9, 1918, in West Hartford, Connecticut, to William Hoyt Hayden and Bernice Leah Hayden (King). He attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, graduating cum laude in 1939, and receiving the college’s Van Zile Prize for original poetry. In 1944 he received his bachelor of divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. In 1966 he earned his doctor of divinity from the same institution.

While on staff at Plymouth Church in Syracuse, New York, Rev. Hayden met his beloved wife, Betty Jane. They were married August 20, 1942. Following Rev. Hayden’s graduation from PSR in 1944, the couple moved to Guerneville, California, where he became pastor at the Community Congregational Church. While serving this parish he was instrumental in persuading the state conference to buy and develop a large tract of land as Camp Cazadero, now a noteworthy church camp of the UCC.

Rev. Hayden served as pastor at College Community Congregational Church in Fresno, California, from 1956 to 1970, and then the Community United Church of Christ in San Carlos, California, until 1984. Prior to his parish ministry in Fresno, Rev. Hayden also served as the Protestant chaplain at the University of New Mexico and the University of New Hampshire.

Rev. Hayden focused his faith and ministry on areas of social justice, believing that Christ’s message was as much political as it was spiritual, his family related. He openly spoke from the pulpit against the government’s policy of relocating Japanese-Americans to internment camps during WWII; he met with and spoke to Dr. Martin Luther King when he came to California to lend support to Proposition 4, which was one of the first “fair housing” acts to pass the California legislature; he walked a portion of the route from Delano to Sacramento with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers on behalf of migrant workers’ rights; and, in 1972 he worked to support the ordination of the first openly gay individual in a “mainstream” American denomination.

Rev. Hayden retired in 1984. In his retirement sermon that year, he noted the struggle to advance racial equality, inclusion and social justice “has continued for all the years of my ministry, and I have tried never to speak without calling attention to these, and often it has been unpopular among some and even dangerous among others.” After retiring, Rev. Hayden served interim ministries in Kapaau, Hawaii; Arlington, Massachusetts; and Los Altos, California. In later years he gave monthly sermons at Pilgrim Place and returned often to Community UCC in Fresno to reiterate his message. The Social Hall at Community UCC was dedicated in his name on one of those visits.

Rev. Hayden remained active until just a few days before his death; corresponding regularly with a wide circle of friends and colleagues, creating and cheerfully sharing thousands of watercolor paintings, and keeping in constant loving contact with his children and extended family.

Rev. Hayden was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Betty Jane.

He is survived by his children, David (Robin) of Duncan, South Carolina, Deirdre (Larry) of Beaverton, Oregon, and Jeremy (Nicky) of North Royalton, Ohio; seven grandchildren, Lisa Carey, Emily (Benson), Jeff and Andrew Clausen, Blaire (Bartish), Max and Dylan Hayden; eight great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews, all who loved him dearly. Moreover, he is survived by the positive messages of faith he instilled in the minds of all who knew him.

An interfaith memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 10 at Decker Hall, Pilgrim Place, 625 Mayflower Rd., Claremont.

Donations in memory of Rev. Hayden may be made to Pilgrim Place at pilgrimplace.org, or by check mailed to Pilgrim Place, 625 Mayflower Rd., Claremont, CA 91711.

Videos from the recent 60th Anniversary Celebration

Our 60-year anniversary events on Jan. 27, 2018, were very successful in celebrating our church’s past and hopes for the next 60 years.

Many thanks go out to so many volunteers that helped put on this wonderful event.
  • CUCC Youth Group
  • Robin Carlson
  • Sean Carlson
  • Penny Carroll
  • Pearl Supersad
  • Susan Chavez
  • Kristi Cole
  • Terry Cole
  • Bonita Earl
  • Marie Edwards
  • Ruben Fernandez
  • Meg Gallagher
  • Sarah Hayden
  • EJ Hinojosa
  • Spencer Hipp
  • Sue Hipp
  • Wade Hobson
  • Cheryl Jones
  • Jeff Jones
  • Karri Jones
  • Marge Kelly
  • Amy Kilburn
  • Carol Kilburn
  • Patty Parks
  • Sharon Powers
  • Nancy Pressley
  • Felicia Rocha
  • Mike Smith
  • Marilyn Wall
  • Eileen White
  • Rod Zook

We will be sharing some of the information from the program for that night’s program on our website soon.

In our program for the evening, Terry Cole provided a historical view of CUCC with photos of past, present and future. Here is that video. It was shown that evening after the dinner:

Community UCC historical tour

On Jan. 27, 2018, earlier in the day before the 60th Anniversary Dinner Celebration, Sharon Powers-Smith and Sarah Fey led a group of 10 members of our congregation on a journey into the historic sites from our church’s past.

The group began and ended at our current site, our campus at 5550 N. Fresno St., between Bullard and Barstow.

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Our first stop (photos above) was in the Fashion Fair parking lot, near Chick-Fil-A. Our congregation’s first address was 645 E. Shaw Ave. and the first worship service was held on March 11, 1956. The Rev. Henry Hayden was our founding minister.

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Next (photos above), we went to where our original little redwood church was moved to, 4144 N. Millbrook Ave. The Little Redwood Church was relocated there in 1965 by the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, who bought our building when Community College Congregation Church (our original name) built a new church on land on Fresno Street, where we are still today. Our Lady of La Vang Catholic Church, served by Father Victor Ding, now occupies the Little Redwood Church.

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The third stop on our tour (photos above) was to visit Zion Congregational Church’s second location (must not waste gas trying to stay in chronological order!) — 4718 E. Yale Ave. in Fresno on the corner of Sierra Vista and Yale in southeast Fresno. Our congregation merged with Zion in 2006. Zion brought many gifts to our church, including the beautiful stained glass windows (designed by artist Corky Normart to mark Zion’s 100-year anniversary) that grace the front of our Sanctuary, the wooden cross carved by Stan Bitters, the “lollipop” cross outside of the Sanctuary created by Stan Bitters, and the tradition of berrocks. Today this site is the Spanish Church of the Nazarene.

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Our final stop (photos above) was the original site of Zion Congregational Church, on the corner of E and Monterey streets in downtown Fresno. The original building burned in 1930; Zion rebuilt on that site and that church still stands today, where it is now the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church.

img_1127.jpgSarah Fey suggested picking up a small memento at each of our stops along the way — a magnolia pod from the Fashion Fair parking lot, a chip of redwood that had flaked off of our original building, a pine cone from Zion’s second home and a white chunk of landscaping rock from Zion’s first church site.

When we returned to our church campus, we had a small ceremony in our Peace Garden, and Sarah buried the items on the berm, not as any kind of time capsule to be reflected upon at a later date, but rather to integrate a small piece of the places that have held the many people who have contributed to the church we know today.