1920 – 1988
Reverend Robert Clarence Cavaness was born on July 30, 1920 in “Sod-town” a small suburb of Bloomington, Indiana. He was the youngest child born in the Cavaness family. Robert was raised in “Pigeon Hill” another small suburb of Bloomington. To describe Pigeon Hill you would have to talk to someone who actually lived there. The entire geographical area was only about five blocks wide, and three blocks deep. It was a poor section of town and very tough to say the least. Pigeon Hill was a place where the “less fortunate” sometimes had to live. In fact, it was so bad that when the policemen walked their “beat” they would go two- by-two for self protection. Many of the houses where people lived were considered to be nothing more than “shacks”. In many instances they would simply lay linoleum down on top of the dirt floor just to keep them off the ground.
Robert was raised in a small “shot-gun” house in this not-so-prestigious neighborhood. In his own words, he said, “I was raised poor.” He often referred to it as a “dung-hill” unfit for humanity. Robert recalled, “I was so poor growing up that I took only one bath per week. For if you had to carry water, and heat it too! and put it into a #2 wash tub, you wouldn’t take but one bath a week either.” His mother and father were divorced when he was very young. His father died early in life. Robert described his early life as such, “It was like living in a “hell-hole. Bootlegging and drunkenness was just a way of life.” Most of his youth was spent in and around “Pigeon Hill.”
Robert Cavaness was the first in his family to say yes to God. At the tender age of (16) he entered into the church. By invitation he began to attend the Pentecostal Church in Bloomington, Indiana, Pastored by O.T. Frame. After hearing the Apostolic faith message of Acts 2:38, he pursued after the new birth experience. On December 2, 1936, Robert received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. This became the turning point in his life, as he would leave behind old friends and acquaintances to serve the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Robert truly became the “Pride of Pigeon Hill.”
Robert and Muriel Essex were united in holy matrimony, and to this union were born 3 children.
Brother Cavaness soon developed a deep love for the Word of God, and learned the significance of a prayer life. These were some of the outstanding qualities that were instilled in him from his pastor, Brother Frame. He endured much persecution as a young Christian. However, this helped to developed good characteristics in him, and tempered him for the job that God would eventually call him to do. In his formative years as a Christian, Robert developed a love for the house of God. He began to spend more time at church than anywhere else. The more that he studied the Bible and had his eyes opened to the things of God, the more that he desired to know. It wasn’t long until he began to feel a drawing within his inner most being as God began to deal with him about the ministry.
Elder Cavaness became a “prolific” Bible scholar. He was given to study, and searched the scriptures intently. Rightly dividing the Word of God became his specialty. His life and ministry was like a nail in a sure place. His peers looked to him for guidance and leadership. He became an anchor to those troubled by life’s storms. He came too late to know Bishop Haywood, but was blessed enough to have developed a close relationship with two of Haywood’s spiritual sons, namely, the late, Elder R.F. Tobin, and the late Bishop M.E. Golder. Elder Tobin left one of the most proficient impacts on Elder Cavaness’ life. He both adored and emulated this “Great” man of God.
Elder Cavaness spent time in two organizations. Namely, the United Pentecostal Church International, and the Apostolic Ministers Fellowship. However, in his early years of ministry as a minister, he preached most frequently for the predominantly black “Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.” On October 12, 1945, Elder Cavaness began his tenure as pastor of Apostolic Tabernacle, located at 905 South Pike Street in Shelbyville, Indiana. On April 7, 1988, after nearly 43 years of serving his generation, Elder Cavaness fell on sleep.