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Leclare and Helen Reed with daughter Lenore.

Photo courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives.

Reed, Leclare Evans (1903–1999) and Helen (Melton) (1904–1971)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: April 6, 2023

Leclare and Helen Reed served a total of 22 years over three separate periods as a missionary in China. During the years between overseas assignments, they nurtured churches in Pennsylvania and Michigan and, at times, Leclare held departmental offices.

Heritage and Training

Leclare Reed was born on December 22, 1903, in Reed City in upstate Michigan. He was the only child of Clarence and Lenore (Iler) Reed. Clarence was a factory machinist.1When Leclare was nine years old, he was baptized in Lake Orion, Michigan, by Elder Harry Westcott. Leclare attended the Pontiac church school and advanced to Adelphian Academy in Holly, Michigan. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Washington Missionary College, 1922-1926, and completed a higher accountancy course through the LaSalle Correspondence School. Upon completion of his studies, he married home economics teacher Helen Melton on June 15, 1926, in Washington, D.C.2

Mission Service

Soon after their marriage, Leclare and Helen were appointed to serve as missionaries to China. Upon arrival, they located at the Nanjing Language School in September 1926 in order to study the Mandarin language.3 They remained there for two years and then transferred to the Anhwei Mission for Leclare to take up the portfolios of mission treasurer, home missions secretary, and missionary volunteers secretary. He held these positions until 1930.4 His work as home missions secretary included the responsibility for the annual Harvest Ingathering campaign. For these endeavours, Leclare enlisted the help of the students at the China Theological Seminary at Qiaotuozhen, Jiangsu Province, and the Anhwei Junior Middle School.5

In 1930, Leclare relocated to Shanghai to serve as home missions secretary and missionary volunteers secretary for the East China Union Mission. In the same year, he was ordained to the gospel ministry by elders Kenneth Wood and Harry Miller. On July 14, 1930, Helen gave birth to their only child, Lenore Myrtle Reed. Their eight years in Shanghai were fraught with troubled civil conditions during the Sino-Japanese War. In 1938, the family transferred to the South China Union Mission with offices in Hong Kong. Once again, Leclare held the dual positions of home missions secretary and missionary volunteers secretary. It was a brief term of approximately 12 months followed by a return to Shanghai to take the same responsibilities for the entire China Division from 1939 to 1940.6

World War II Years

Expatriates began evacuation to the safety of their homeland in late 1940. The Reed family sailed from Shanghai aboard the “President Coolidge” on November 7, 1940, arriving at San Francisco on November 22.7 For the duration of the war, Leclare served as a church pastor and ministerial leader in the Hastings/Pontiac region of Michigan. It was virtually a homecoming for Leclare and Helen. Helen found employment as a clerk at Pontiac General Hospital.8

Return to China

The Reed family sailed back to China in 1945. For the next six years, Leclare returned to the China Division offices, first in Shanghai and later under retreat to Hong Kong, doing what he called “filling in” or as a “stop-gap.” His official roles were those he had held before the war in the Home Missions and Missionary Volunteer departments. In Hong Kong, he also cared for the Kowloon Church.9As the communist takeover crept over China, expatriates gradually returned once again to the safety of the homeland. Helen and their daughter sailed from Hong Kong on August 4, 1950.10 Leclare followed some months later, when national leaders were voted into office.11

Later Ministry

Back home in America, Leclare was appointed to the West Pennsylvania Conference where he served as departmental secretary for Sabbath School, Home Missions, and Press Relations.12

In 1960, the Reeds went back to Hong Kong under Leclare's appointment to serve as Public Relations secretary and a transportation agent for the South China Island Union Mission13 in addition to the presidency of the Hong Kong-Macao Mission. The latter was an entity of eight churches and 1,000 baptized members. During the three years that Leclare served as president, the number of churches rose to ten and the membership more than doubled to 2,156.14

The Reeds returned to America, and Leclare was last listed in ministerial ranks in 1967 as a member of the Michigan Conference team.15

After Active Service

Helen had not enjoyed good health for some time. She passed away in Avon Park, Florida, on December 6, 1971, at the age of 67.16 Leclare married widow June (Raley) Knight in Vienna, Virginia, on August 11, 1974. Elder Adlai Esteb performed the ceremony.17 Both Leclare and June enjoyed long lives. Leclare was 95 when he passed away in Keene, Texas, on May 17, 1999. June passed on January 30, 2012, at the age of 97. They were interred alongside each other in the Keene Cemetery.18

Sources

“Helen (Melton) Reed.” Lake Union Herald, March 7, 1972.

“In Language Schools.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, October 1926.

“Leclare Evans Reed.” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2022. Accessed April 23, 2022. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/GMPD-3FW.

“Leclare Evans Reed.” Find A Grave Memorial, 2022. Accessed April 23, 2022. https:www.findagrave.com/memorial/122052472/leclare-evans-reed.

“Leclare Evans Reed.” Work Service Records. Versatile Box 7302. Folder: Leclare Evans Reed. Document: “Biographical Information Form.” General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.

“Mrs. L. E. Reed and daughter…” China Division Reporter, Fourth Quarter 1950.

“Newly Elected Division Officers and Departmental Leaders.” China Division Reporter, Fourth Quarter 1950.

Reed, Leclare E. “A Profitable Day.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, December 1929.

Reed, Leclare E. “A Student’s Experience.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, January 1930.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Various years. .

Notes

  1. “Leclare Evans Reed,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2022, accessed April 23, 2022, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/GMPD-3FW.

  2. “Leclare Evans Reed,” Work Service Records, Versatile Box 7302, Folder: Leclare Evans Reed, Document: “Biographical information Form,” General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, Silver Spring, Maryland., U.S.A.

  3. “In Language Schools,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, October 1926, 16.

  4. “Leclare Evans Reed,” Work Service Records.

  5. Leclare E. Reed, “A Profitable Day,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, December 1929, 3.

  6. “Leclare Evans Reed,” Work Service Records.

  7. “Leclare Evans Reed,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2022, accessed April 23, 2022, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/GMPD-3FW.

  8. “Leclare Evans Reed,” Work Service Records.

  9. Ibid.

  10. “Mrs. L. E. Reed and daughter…” China Division Reporter, Fourth Quarter 1950.

  11. “Newly Elected Division Officers and Departmental Leaders,” China Division Reporter, Fourth Quarter 1950, 1.

  12. “West Pennsylvania Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1954), 45.

  13. “South China Island Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1960), 106-107.

  14. “Hong Kong-Macao Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1962), 112.

  15. “Michigan Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1967), 48-49.

  16. “Helen (Melton) Reed,” Lake Union Herald, March 7, 1972, 15.

  17. “Leclare Evans Reed,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2022, accessed April 23, 2022, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/GMPD-3FW.

  18. “Leclare Evans Reed,” Find A Grave Memorial, 2022, accessed April 23, 2022, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/122052472/leclare-evans-reed.

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Hook, Milton. "Reed, Leclare Evans (1903–1999) and Helen (Melton) (1904–1971)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 06, 2023. Accessed June 13, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A8LM.

Hook, Milton. "Reed, Leclare Evans (1903–1999) and Helen (Melton) (1904–1971)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 06, 2023. Date of access June 13, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A8LM.

Hook, Milton (2023, April 06). Reed, Leclare Evans (1903–1999) and Helen (Melton) (1904–1971). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 13, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A8LM.