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AG's First Woman Chaplain, Marjorie Holland, Dies

Marjorie Holland, the first female chaplain to be endorsed by the Assemblies of God, passed away at the age of 98.
Determined, strong-willed, and hardworking Marjorie Martha Hieter Holland — one of the first ordained women in Pennsylvania and the first Assemblies of God woman chaplain — died March 30. She was 98 years old.

“Chaplain Marge Holland was passionate about sharing Jesus with prisoners. She was very serious about God’s redemptive work,” says Manny Cordero, senior director of Assemblies of God Chaplaincy Ministries, a window of U.S. Missions. “She was well respected by administration, staff, inmates, and volunteers.”

Born May 17, 1925, on her parents’ farm in Clarkston, Washington, Holland left home to join the Navy during World War II after graduating from high school. She served on a hospital ship in Maryland, where she met her future husband, George Holland, while he was scrubbing decks.

After marrying, the couple moved to California to attend Bible college. After the birth of their third child and George completed his internship as a prison chaplain at San Quentin, the family moved to Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and pastored a church in Neff Mills.

Marjorie and George worked together as chaplains at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon and she was the chaplain at the Huntingdon County Jail. After the death of George in 1979, Marjorie completed her education and became a chaplain at Western Center in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, then at Muncy Women's Correctional Institute.

‘For her, there was no one beyond the reach of the gospel,” Cordero says. “I had the privilege to learn insights about being a correctional chaplain from her. She is one of my heroes in chaplaincy.”

Upon her retirement from the State of Pennsylvania, Marjorie moved to State College, Pennsylvania, where she pastored at Salona United Church of Christ and Mt. Bethel United Church of Christ. After retiring from pastoring at the age of 83, she actively traveled. In 2013 she moved to York, Pennsylvania, to reside at Normandie Ridge Retirement home where her son, Scott, watched over her.

Endorsed by the AG in 1963, she provided an updated testimony in 1985 to her endorsement application. In her testimony, the conviction to her calling, despite overwhelming challenges, were clear.

She wrote that before she was born, the Lord revealed to her mother in a dream that the baby she was carrying (Marjorie) would be called by Him. The problem was, Marjorie’s mother had been raised in a religious tradition in which only males were permitted in public ministry, so when Marjorie was born, she felt she had erred somehow.

“The years went by and she watched my public ministry develop and was amazed,” Marjorie wrote. “Many of the hardships of becoming a clergyperson have been of my own making and others have been because of a male-dominated field. But God has always sent a key person to help me when a special door needed to be opened for my ministry. Daily I am reminded of this special calling which has been put on my life. I am happy; I am my own person standing on my own two feet, with the Lord’s help.”

The oldest and last surviving of five siblings — Don, Doris, Dick, and David — Marjorie had been ordained over 50 years at the time of her death.

She is survived by her children Lynn, Scott (Sheryl), Traci (Brad), Mark (Donna), and Christian, 10 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held on April 26 at State College Assembly of God.