The spiritual leaders of West Angeles Church of God in Christ are, from left, Co-Pastor Charles Blake II, First Lady DeAndra Blake, First Lady Mae Blake and Presiding Bishop Emeritus Charles E. Blake. (Rickey Brown/West Angeles COGIC)

Presiding Bishop Emeritus Charles E. Blake, Sr. stopped the rumormongers and gossipers in their tracks by announcing his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease during the worship service of West Angeles Church of God in Christ on April 24.

Addressing his congregation with Lady Mae Blake at his side, the senior pastor acknowledged living with the disease for the past 10 years and thanking God that he was able to still have a productive ministry despite the affliction.  Co-Pastor Charles Blake II and First Lady DeAndra Blake also shared the podium as the bishop spoke.

On April 25, he issued an official statement, which read: “As the Senior Pastor of West Angeles Church, I have led and served this great church daily for more than 53 years. However; most recently I am acutely aware that my Parkinson’s diagnosis is impacting my physical stature, and vocal strength. Many individuals with Parkinson’s continue to live long, satisfying lives.”

Presiding Bishop Emeritus Charles E. Blake, Sr. (Courtesy)

Committed to his calling, Blake promised to continue ministering to the membership as much as possible. He said he will rotate preaching with his sons, Co-Pastor Blake and Young Adult Pastor Lawrence C. Blake, along with the clergy of West Angeles Church.

In his statement, he expressed appreciation for the support of his family, church members and the community for “supporting me during this time.”   Also, he added, “Although it is obvious that I do not move as fast as I used to, I am still very much excited about the work of God and the future of West Angeles.  I am committed to giving God my best every day!  I thank you for your love and your prayers.”

Lady Mae L. Blake stated, “I too just want to thank you for all of the prayers and the love that you’ve shown us.  I’m just so happy that Bishop Blake is still here for us to love on, and learn from.  I praise God that He’s not done with West Angeles or Bishop, and that God has more work for us to do!”

Presiding Bishop John Drew Sheard, left, looks on as Presiding Bishop Emeritus Blake, center,  preaches the Word of God. (Courtesy photo)

West Angeles COGIC is the one of the largest ministries in the nation, with a membership exceeding 20,000. Located in South Los Angeles, the congregation began worshipping in the 5,000-seat Cathedral in 1999.  The stunning edifice was built from steel, granite, travertine marble, multi-colored tile mosaics and stained glass. First Lady Blake designed the building’s interior.

In October 2019, Bishop Blake announced that West Angeles had sold several properties to construct its Family Life Center, pay off the mortgage on the Cathedral, establish a financial reserve and contribute to the improvement and development of the Crenshaw Corridor.

“Paying off the Cathedral’s mortgage ensures that the Crenshaw Corridor will forever have a house of worship that cares about its community,” said Bishop Blake at the time.

Blake leads one of the largest congregations in the nation. (Courtesy)

In January 2020, Bishop Charles and First Lady Blake simultaneously celebrated their 51st pastoral anniversary and burned the $65 million mortgage on the West Angeles Cathedral.

The joyous mortgage-burning observance was attended by thousands of members of West Angeles along with several special guests.  Bishop Joe Ealy, presiding prelate of the denomination’s Southern California First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, delivered uplifting sermons at the services and the Grammy-winning artist Kurt Carr performed with the Kurt Carr Singers.  Carr served 19 years with West Angeles’ Music Department before launching his professional career.

In addition to the Blakes’ leadership, several West Angeles members also played key roles in the campaign to pay off the mortgage. They included businessman and NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his wife, author and businesswoman Cookie Johnson, West Angeles Chief Operating Officer Gladys Ross, and Charles Quarles of The Bedford Group.  Also, the West Angeles congregation donated more than $30 million to the effort.