Champion of the Month

Deacon Johnnie Clayton Share

Nov 1, 2017  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

91-year-old Mar­i­on res­i­dent John­nie Clay­ton earned the ordain­ment of Dea­con through­out his many years of min­is­ter­ing. But, his is min­istry is spe­cif­ic to cham­pi­oning for young men who are con­vict­ed crim­i­nals, a reflec­tion of his own past. Clay­ton was born on Dec. 1, 1925, and grew up on a plan­ta­tion in Mis­sis­sip­pi. He and his sib­lings were raised by his grand­moth­er as a result of his moth­er pass­ing while they were young. As an ear­ly teen, he moved to Chica­go and tried to make a liv­ing through odd jobs. In his young adult years, he served hon­or­ably in com­bat for the U.S. Army dur­ing World War II. But, Clay­ton also began to make bad choic­es and got into trou­ble, main­ly for theft. Clay­ton con­tin­ued the path and was in and out of prison until he decid­ed to change his life in 1969, by accept­ing God.

After serv­ing his last prison sen­tence in Michi­gan City, he found his way to Mar­i­on, Indi­ana. He also found the love of his life in Pauline Parcher, a Sun­day School teacher. (They were mar­ried for 44 years until she passed away in Decem­ber of 2016). 

Clay­ton began to min­is­ter to young men serv­ing time in the Grant Coun­ty Jail. He then expand­ed his min­istry to help inmates through­out the State of Indi­ana. He would give them guid­ance, explain­ing the impor­tance of faith, and assist them with achiev­ing goals after they com­plet­ed their sen­tences. He would dri­ve them to work or class, help them obtain a driver’s license, give them mon­ey when need­ed, and more. He did this, and con­tin­ues to do this, through the sup­port of area churches. 

Clay­ton has also been serv­ing on the Grant Coun­ty Cor­rec­tion Board for near­ly 30 years, and has been named an hon­orary chap­lain for the Grant Coun­ty Sheriff’s Depart­ment. On Novem­ber 8th, 2012, his life changed again when he received a par­don from then Indi­ana Gov­er­nor Mitch Daniels. 

It meant quite a bit to me, at my age. It’s an hon­or because few peo­ple get that.”

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