January – Wright Headlines ‘Theology in Hood Revival’
The year kicked-off with the ‘Theology in the Hood Revival’ addressing the deaths of unarmed African American males by police. The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL, offered spiritual insight on theme, “Law and Order: What is the role of the African American Church in Justice Reform?” Bethel A.M.E. – L.A., Bryant Temple A.M.E., Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches and the USC Cecil Murray Center for Civic Engagement sponsored the revival.
March – Douroux ends 64-year local church music ministry
Dr. Margaret Pleasant Douroux retired after 64 years in local church music ministry. The founder/CEO of the Heritage Music Foundation, Douroux is also a recording artist and prolific composer who has written more than 100 songs including “We’re Blessed,” “Give Me A Clean Heart,” “If It Had Not Been For The Lord On My Side,” “He Decided To Die,” and “What Shall I Render.” Douroux said her focus would now be on “establishing a ‘Gospel House’, a shrine to Gospel music like those for country and rock music. I envision it to have a concert hall, museum, and awards programs.”
May – L.A. Churches Celebrate Milestones
Many local ministries marked significant milestones throughout the month. Second Baptist Church, led by Pastor William S. Epps, celebrated its 130th anniversary. Pastor L.A. Kessee and the members of Bethany Baptist Church of West Los Angeles marked their 57th year with a salute to Pastor Emeritus Rocellia Johnson, church organizer and founder of Bethany Christian Bible College. The Rev. Dr. Melvin Wade, Sr., pastor of Mount Moriah Baptist Church of Los Angeles observed both his 50th year in the ministry and 50th year as a pastor.
June – Episcopal Church Elects 1st Black Presiding Bishop
Black Episcopalians throughout the Southland expressed about the historic election of the Right Rev. Michael Curry as the first African American presiding bishop of the denomination. “I’m just so thrilled! There’s a newness and enthusiasm about his election,” said the Rev. Vanessa MacKenzie, pastor of Episcopal Church of the Advent in South Los Angeles. Rebecca Shaw, a lifelong Episcopalian and a member of Episcopal Church of the Advent, added, “His election is very exciting for our church.”
July – Campbell addresses husband’s repeated infidelities
Gospel recording artist Tina Campbell took to the stage to share her struggles with pride, anger and unforgiveness in dealing with her husband’s admitted sexual affairs. In an interview with Dr. Valerie Wardlaw, Sentinel contributing writer, Campbell revealed that the scriptures was her salvation. “My situation was bad, so I ran to God. I read the Word everyday,” said Campbell. Though the Word and prayer, she and her husband, renowned drummer Teddy Campbell, repaired their marriage.
August – Two momentous events – Grundy & Blake
Dr. Rickey Grundy, a multi-talented, award-winning musician, composer, director and producer. Grundy, died on July 27 at the age of 56. Grundy mesmerized audiences with his arrangements of tracks such as “Happier With Jesus,” “Spirit of the Living God,” “Call Him Up,” and “Just Say the Word.”
A capacity crowd celebrated the 75th birthday of the Right Rev. Charles E. Blake, presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, Inc., and pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ on July 31. Participants included Pastor Rick Warren, Earvin ‘Magic’ and Cookie Johnson, Samuel and Latanya Jackson, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, Bishop P.A. Brooks, recording artist Stevie Wonder, Mother Willie Mae Rivers, and Mother Barbara McCoo Lewis.
October – Hardwick Reflects on 60 years of ministry
The Rev. Dr. Joseph Benjamin Hardwick celebrated his 60th year as pastor of Praises of Zion Baptist Church. Vowing to continue his ministry, Hardwick insisted, “I have a deep yearning to help people. I think that’s part of my divine calling is to reach out and help the less fortunate. That’s the thing that challenges me each and every day.” Under his leadership, the church has implemented scores of ministries and outreach programs to aid the surrounding community.
November – After 5 year hiatus, Franklin releases new album
After almost five years, the prolific and visionary artist, Kirk Franklin, released “Losing My Religion,” his 11th studio album. “God loaned me some incredible songs for this album,” Franklin said in an interview with Dr. Wardlaw. “What religion has done is thrown so many rules, so many laws, and so many other things at people, that people are drowning and have become frustrated. My job on “Losing My Religion” is to show that God wants you to receive salvation, and religion doesn’t have anything to do with it.”