Bishop Walter Hawkins Funeral Services
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Bishop Walter Hawkins Celebration of Life (L-R) Bebe Winans, Marvin Winans & Mary Mary
“The Man…The Music…The Ministry”
By Sharon Jackson
On July 11, 2010, Bishop Walter Lee Hawkins passed away (after a two-year long battle) from pancreatic cancer at his home in Ripon, California. The Grammy-winning gospel singer, composer and pastor (and founder) of Love Center Ministries was 61 years of age when he went home to be with the Lord.
Women, men, families, friends, clergy, church members, the community and people from all over the country came to pay tribute to Bishop Walter Lee Hawkins honoring “the man…the music…and the ministry”. Many stood in long lines at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California just to have an opportunity to witness this celebration of life. All of the free tickets for both the musical tribute and homegoing service were distributed in less than two hours.
It was an amazing celebration! On a Tuesday evening, an all-star lineup of gospel celebrities entertained the captive audience with an astounding musical tribute. The Masters of Ceremonies’ duties were shared by Bebe Winans, Marvin Winans, and Dr. Bobby Jones of Black Entertainment Television (BET). Cathy Braun-Taylor raised the roof with her rendition of “Jesus, I Love You”. R & B artist Ledisi was well-received by her hometown with her awesome vocal execution and impassioned singing. Mary Mary, Bebe Winans, Marvin Winans and Bishop Morton brought the crowd to their feet with their smooth style and showmanship. The appreciative audience also remained standing while they swayed and listened to the soulful gospel sounds of Yolanda Adams, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Daryl Coley and Karen Clark Sheard. Guitarist, Jonathan DuBose Jr. played “Goin’ Up Yonder”. Melvin and Doug Williams of the Williams Brothers also participated in the musical celebration.
They even had dancers to perform displaying their graceful talent, artistry and emotion. The Love Center Choir and the Music Directors were the anchors for the show with their gifted voices and anointed musical direction filled with passion, love and true devotion for their beloved pastor and friend. Edwin Hawkins, Donald Lawrence, Kurt Carr, Richard Smallwood and Rusty Watson (longtime vocal director) shared the spotlight as Music Directors.
There was a poignant moment when a video clip shared by Don Jackson, the Executive Producer of the Stellar Awards, was shown with Walter Hawkins singing “Marvelous”. Later on, Donnie McClurkin, along with Byron Cage and Marvin Sapp brought an already excited audience to a soaring climax with their stirring rendition of the same song (“Marvelous”). At the end of the musical tribute, Lady Tramaine Hawkins gave a stellar performance with two (2) beautiful heartfelt songs. Everyone was
captivated by her strength, presence and artistry. I could feel the pulse of the audience. No one wanted this night to end.
On Wednesday morning for the home going service, several hundred people streamed into the Paramount Theater, most of them dressed in “cream colored” attire to pay homage to a man they all loved, revered and mourned. At the moment of the hour, everyone stood up
while they watched family members, one by one, walk down the aisle to be seated. As they walked down the left side of the theater, the family glimpsed at the dark brown casket, sitting on the stage, beautifully decorated with a multicolored bouquet of flowers on the top and cream colored flowers in the front of the casket. During the processional, one of the pastors said a merciful prayer.
Several pastors and bishops from various states and denominations sat in the front row on stage to show their respect for Bishop Walter Lee Hawkins. Bishop Julia Whitehurst from Faithful Central Missionary Church in Apopka, Florida; Bishop Kenneth Ulmer from Faithful Central Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, CA; Bishop George McKinney from St. Stephens Church of God in Christ in San Diego, CA; Pastor Sandy Coleman from Love Center Ministries in Oakland, CA; Pastor Ronnie McFarland from Love Center Ministries in Oakland, CA; Pastor Larry Coleman from Restored Life Ministries in Springfield, Ohio; Pastor Gregory Payton from St. James Baptist Church in Oakland, CA; and Pastor Donnie McClurkin from Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York and a host of other clergy members came to celebrate the truly amazing and anointed life of Bishop Walter Hawkins.
Individually, with deep reflection, they gave testimonies about their relationship with Walter Hawkins, how he rose to the occasion during times of uncertainty, his strength when he was weak and not feeling well, and how he was thankful for life and his enduring faithfulness. They spoke of his “welcoming, affirming and inclusive love”. One pastor said, “We’re here, not because he died, but because he (Walter Hawkins) lived”.
Reverend Jesse Jackson eloquently stated that “He (Walter Hawkins) left us better off than he found us…whatever it is He (God) led me, lifted me, and gave me my ministry”. Jesse Jackson went on to elaborate how “It’s sad to have a long life and a shorter victory…with no service”. However, Walter Hawkins had a long life of dedicated and uplifting service. After a very reflective and brief tribute, Reverend Jackson concluded his statements by saying “Good night Oakland, good morning glory”.
Pastor Larry Coleman gave an unforgettable testimony that brought everyone to their feet with tears of joy, praise and understanding. He spoke of when he was down and out…and how Walter Hawkins ministered to him, never judged him, introduced him to God and brought him to salvation…and how great a man Walter Hawkins was.
The immediate family (brothers Edwin and Daniel; sisters Carol, Feddie and Lynette; children Walter “Jamie” and Trystan) gave a tribute to the man, father and brother as they knew him. After reflecting on his life with his brother, Edwin humbly thanked everyone for their love and participation. Baby sister Lynette said very little but her emotions spoke volumes. Edwin’s son Jamie gestured by extending his arms from one end of the theater to the other, looked at the audience and said “if he could only see this”. He mentioned how his Dad modeled change and the growth process. He also talked about how his Dad “spoke faith and looked cancer in the mirror…he loved unconditionally”. As a result, Jamie mentioned that he “learned lessons of love and forgiveness”.
In contrast to Tuesday’s celebratory spirit at the musical tribute, on Wednesday at the home going service – the mood was much more solemn as if reality had suddenly set in. Pastor Donnie Mc Clurkin, along with gospel extraordinaire Bebe Winans, lifted the heavy hearts of many by singing a sermonic song titled “If You Just Stand”.
Bishop Kenneth H. Moales Sr. from Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bridgeport, CT, gave the eulogy. He uplifted everyone with a reflective, spiritual and positive message that Bishop Hawkins would be proud of. Visually, I could see him smiling and saying…well done.
Prior to his death, in his own testimony, Walter Hawkins said, “I know that beyond the shadow of a doubt that God loves me”. In summary, like Bishop Walter Hawkins’ brother Daniel stated at the funeral service, “He went home in peace. He was brave…and ready to go”. Bishop Hawkins legacy of lifetime achievements, compassion and undying faith will continue to live on…he will surely be missed.