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Pastor John Hunter
FAME is one of the oldest Black churches in Los Angeles, and it provides many services to the community; any change in leadership is cause for concern.
A part of the church's responsibility is to hold its leaders accountable for the growth and prosperity, services and the spiritual needs of its members. According to some of its members, First AME Church (FAME) was lacking in many of those areas, and the pastor, Rev. John Hunter was held responsible. In the AME's hierarchy, it is the bishop of the district who takes the action to remove a pastor when the membership becomes dissatisfied with the pastor's performance.
As a result, the Sentinel has learned that Rev. Hunter was removed by the bishop of the district, the Right Rev. T. Larry Kirkland who oversees the Fifth Episcopal District where FAME is located. Rev. Edgar Boyd is now the new pastor at FAME and is scheduled to hold his first Sunday service this coming Sunday.
In addition, to the action taken at FAME, Bishop Kirkland also removed the pastors at Brookins Community AME and Ward AME churches. The Rev. Gregory McLeod was named to Brookins Community Church and the Rev. Taurus Myhand will lead Ward AME church respectively.
Needless to say, the community is very concerned about the removal (relocation) of the pastors, particularly FAME, since it had a reputation of being a hub of activity, working on behalf of the community and it was considered one of the mega-churches in the Black community. Some of the services it provided included assistance with housing; legal services, business development, and a host of other free services designed to enhance the quality of life of its members. But it seems obvious 'somethings' must have gone wrong.
One of the most prominent entities that grew out of FAME is the FAME Renaissance Program which is a centerpiece of the economic development arm of the church. It is run by Mrs. Denise Hunter, Rev. Hunter's spouse, and located in a four-story building on Adams Blvd. (the FAME Renaissance Center), diagonally across from the historic Golden State building on the corner of Western and Adams.
According to our sources, Rev. Hunter is being relocated to Bethel AME church, San Francisco and Mrs. Hunter wants to remain in charge of the FAME Renaissance Program. That will definitely create problems for the Hunters and for the church. It is believed that the new leadership of the church may have its own ideas about the entire operation of the church and its subsidiaries including the FAME Renaissance Center. As a practical matter, relocation is always costly and maintaining dual households becomes more burdensome when that relocation is not voluntary.
During the eight years Rev. Hunter was the pastor of the church and Mrs. Hunter was the first lady, their combined leadership did advance the well-being of the church in meaningful ways, even though there were some 'bumps in the road' periodically. They did establish some effective programs that served the community and some of their more visible successes will very likely continue after they leave; there was a back-to-school program annually, which provided computers, bicycles, backpacks, shoes and other materials to thousands of children from the South Los Angeles community; and the weekend produce market that made quality and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables available to residents in the area.
Though the leadership may change, FAME will carry on with its work of serving the people in and of the community.