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Black History Moments in L.A.’s Faith Community
By Cora Jackson-Fossett (Religion Editor)
Published February 10, 2016
Rev. Katherine Shivers

Rev. Katherine Shivers

Rev. Katherine K. Shivers

The Rev. Katherine K. Shivers was one of the first African American women to be ordained a Baptist minister in Los Angeles. A native of Los Angeles, Pastor Shivers began her ministry in her mother’s living room in Fontana when she was 23 years old. At that time, she founded the Church of the Holy Gospel.

In 1960, the Rev. Shivers established Tabernacle Square Baptist Church. Three years later, she purchased, renovated and transformed an old theater building into the church’s existing facility.   Also, the church name was changed to Tabernacle Christian Forum reflecting its non-denominational status.

Pastor Shivers elevated her ministry to the airwaves in the 1970s and 80s with two radio programs – “Miracles Can Happen To You” and “To God Be the Glory.”

Her daughter, the Rev. Kathy Shivers-Ward, said, “My mother founded and built a church during a period when females were not readily welcomed to preach in the Baptist denomination. Yet, she endured and excelled, travelling throughout the country proclaiming the Word. She was a role model and source of inspiration for me and other women in the clergy,” she said.

Dr. Whalen Jones (center) with Mrs. Katie Webb and Deacon Sam Omotosho.

Dr. Whalen Jones (center) with Mrs. Katie Webb and Deacon Sam Omotosho.

Rev. Dr. Whalen S. Jones

The Rev. Dr. Whalen Samuel Jones is the founder and pastor emeritus of Messiah Baptist Church in Los Angeles. At 106 years old, the handsome centenarian possesses a sound mind, good health and an unwavering commitment to Christ after more than 10 decades of living.   Also, he regularly attends Sunday worship and for several years, he instructed the Teacher’s Bible Training Institute.

His ministry began in 1937 when he accepted the call to preach. Following his ordination and graduation from the Bible Institute of Pennsylvania, he received his first pastoral assignment in 1943. In 1954, the Lord sent Dr. Jones west to Los Angeles where he organized Messiah Baptist Church. After 34 years as Messiah’s senior pastor, Dr. Jones retired in 1987 but he holds pleasant memories of his tenure.

He said, “God permitted Messiah to grow and prosper in every way. How I thank God for allowing me to pastor a ‘Godly group’ of people.” The Los Angeles City Council designated of the intersection of Adams and Wellington Road as ‘Doctor Whalen S. Jones Square’ in 2013.

Westminster Presbyterian Church was designated a L.A. Historic Cultural Monument in 1980.

Westminster Presbyterian Church was designated a L.A. Historic Cultural Monument in 1980.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Westminster Presbyterian Church is the home of the oldest African American Presbyterian congregation in Los Angeles. According to its website, “the fellowship began in the early 20th century with eighteen “Colored” people whose background, training and education came from schools operated by the Presbyterian Church in the Carolinas. They began holding services in the Central Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoons.

“The new church development committee appealed to the then Los Angeles Presbytery to come under “care and development.” On October 21, 1904, the church was enrolled in the then-Presbytery of Los Angeles.

“The new Westminster Presbyterian Church not only marked the birth of a Colored Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, it was also to be the first of its kind in the state of California and west of the Mississippi,” the website stated. The first Westminster Presbyterian Church was erected in 1906 at West 35th Place and Denker Avenue. In 1948, the congregation purchased its current edifice located at 2230 West Jefferson Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Categories: Religion
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