It was a great day at Bethlehem Temple Church, 958 E. 52nd Street in Los Angeles. On Sunday, April 23rd, several officers of various rankings from the South Central, Newton Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, along with Councilman Curren Price and Herb Wesson III, joined the congregation and Pastor Gentry Richardson, Jr. in worship service at their ‘4th Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day’.
Pastor Gentry and Lady Denise Richardson have set aside one day a year to honor the police officers who protect the community in which the church is located. This celebration and appreciation is in an effort to continue to bridge the gap between the community, its law enforcement, and the church. “We want them to know that we understand and appreciate them risking their lives to protect us daily, and that we will continue to cover them in prayer, that God will protect them and their families!” Pastor Gentry Richardson Jr.
During the powerful service, Deputy Chiefs Phil Tingirides, Dennis Kato, Robert Arcos, Captain Chris Waters and Councilman Price shared words of gratitude for the appreciation and love shown. Captain Chris Waters of the Newton Division Police Department, expressed her desire to continue to build the relationship with Pastor Richardson, Bethlehem Temple Church and members of the community as her father worked as a Barber for many years in the community. It was shared by both Pastor Richardson and Captain Waters that this partnership would prove to be a great example to many on the benefits of such services.
Pastor Richardson believes that based on the current times, in which we live, appreciation for our local Law Enforcement is needed now more than ever. Councilman Price presented a certificate to Dr. Gentry Richardson, Sr., Pastor Emeritus, for his service to the community.
Deputy Chief Tingrides stated, as South Los Angeles approach the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots (which further strained relations between community members and Law Enforcement), and reflect on what is different, or what has changed, it is, in part, due to various programs like this, that continue to build the camaraderie and partnerships between the church, the community and the officers that serve in the community. Pastor and Lady Richardson are committed to this cause and have provided opportunities to open dialogue, such as safety meetings offered during the week where the congregants and community can ask questions of the police and safety demonstrations in which Police Officers can offer tips to the community on what to do in danger. In addition to having members of the Los Angeles Police Department as congregants, Pastor and Lady Richardson also have members who are now on the Community Advisory Committee Board for the Newton Police Department. This relationship did not just begin with Bethlehem Temple’s current pastor, but dates back to its previous pastors as well.
In recognition for the work in the community, on Thursday, April 27th, a special ceremony rededicating the sign on 52nd Street and Wadsworth Avenue by including the name “Dr. Gentry Richardson, Sr., Pastor Emeritus” to the existing sign which, presently reads ‘Bishop William Lugene Smith Square.’
Bishop William Smith founded Bethlehem Temple more than 70 years ago. Dr. Gentry Richardson Sr. served as Assistant Pastor for 42 years and Pastor of Bethlehem Temple Church for 17 years before retiring and passing the mantle on to his son, District Elder Gentry Richardson, Jr. This ceremony will take place in an effort to recognize the success of both previous pastors who served the surrounding communities. It is the desire of Pastor Richardson, the congregants of Bethlehem Temple Church and the entire Newton Police Department to continue to foster a healthy and proactive relationship for the safety of all who live and serve in their community.