Clergy and laity from throughout Southern California gathered at Mount Moriah Baptist Church on May 9 to salute the long and distinguished ministry of the Rev. Dr. Solomon L. Drake, the senior pastor of Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.
The uplifting event, sponsored by the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California (BMC), featured tributes and recognitions from several ministers who have been influenced by Drake’s strong commitment to Christian and community service. Drake will retire from the pastoral ministry in June after decades of preaching, teaching and leading hundreds to Christ.
“I’m here today, to celebrate his works. I say to him thank you for being an example to young pastors like me,” said the Rev. K.W. Tulloss, pastor of Historic Weller Street Baptist Church.
“Thank you, Dr. Drake. You have made us feel so special even though we didn’t always deserve it,” remarked the Rev. Stanley Richards, pastor of Beacon Light Baptist Church.
“When ministers get together, we start naming pastors around the city that we believe are pastors of integrity, accountability, good character and a good Christian. We always bring up Dr. Drake’s name,” noted the Rev. J. Wendell Davis, pastor of New Jericho Baptist Church.
Sharing similar comments, the Rev. Xavier L. Thompson, BMC president and pastor of Southern St. Paul Church, said, “Integrity, good character and a good Christian. That’s the summation of Dr. Drake. He has always been a senior pastor that I could seek out wise counsel and advice.”
“I want to thank you all for this recognition. God is a good God. I would like to acknowledge family who has been with me all of the way,” said Dr. Drake.
Offering appreciation to his wife, Isabel, Drake added, “She was with me when I had church in my car, when I preached to one person, when I had church in the mortuary chapel, but I didn’t quit. When you love somebody, you ought to tell them. I love you, honey!
“My children always encouraged me and told me, ‘I love you, Daddy.’ So, I thank God for all of the beautiful expressions, but I’m aware of the fact that the best is yet to come. It’s a joy to be a child of God, so again, I thank God for all of you,” Drake said.
Dr. Drake also preached a brief sermon entitled, “These Things Speak” where he encouraged the audience to display godly behavior and share God’s word. Taking his text from Titus 2:11 to 3:8, he said, “Apostle Paul’s saying ‘Listen, you’re just passing through now and there’s no need for you to do anything but preach the Gospel. My brothers and sisters, it’s joy, a blessing and is our hope that we know for ourselves that we have been anchored in the Lord.”
Drake has served at Greater Ebenezer for nearly 34 years. During his tenure, he led the membership in expanding the edifice, purchasing additional properties, opening a pre-school, and establishing a state-of-the-art library. In addition, the portion of South Denker Avenue was designated as ‘Pastor Drake Square’ by the City of Los Angeles.
Prior to his ministerial career, Dr. Drake made a significant mark in professional baseball as an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. Also, he and his brother, Sammy, were the first African American brothers to play in the major leagues.