Rev. Dr. Billy Ingram
Beloved Pastor, Husband, Father & Friend
By Cora Jackson-Fossett
Sentinel Religion Editor
The sudden passing of Rev. Dr. Billy Ingram stunned the greater Los Angeles community and prompted an outpouring of expressions from religious and community leaders throughout the area.
Dr. Ingram, who was the founder and pastor of Maranatha Community Church, unexpectedly died early Tuesday, March 8, reportedly of a heart attack at age 58. Under his leadership, the church began in April 1980 and soon grew to a congregation of thousands renowned for its focus on community outreach, social activism and spiritual empowerment programs.
In addition to his ministry, Dr. Ingram was a professional photographer for Getty and WireImages as well as an author, educator, poet, and musician. He was also husband to Solombra and father to nine-year old twins and three adult children.
His untimely death shocked many as several ecumenical leaders rushed to the family’s side to offer sympathy and support. According to a family spokesperson, personal condolences were received from Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake of the Church of God in Christ, Bishop Frank Stewart of Zoe Christian Fellowship, Rev. Dr. Melvin Wade of Mount Moriah Baptist Church, Rev. Beverly “Bam” Crawford of Bible Enrichment Fellowship Church, Rev. Dr. Ed Haygood, Rev. Dr. Gloria Morrow and Rev. Suzy Jones.
“Some passings tend to traumatize us, more than others. After only 58 winters and summers on this earth, for Pastor Billy Ingram to be taken away so suddenly leaves us all, not only indebted to him, but under a commitment to fulfill his mission. Our sympathies to the biological family and to the church family,” said Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray, USC Professor of Religion and former pastor of First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles.
Recalling his recent worship experience at Maranantha, Councilman Bernard Parks said, “I just went to his church a week ago and he thought enough about me to give a prayer.” Since the church was located in Council District 8, Parks said he often partnered with Dr. Ingram on several initiatives.
“I have worked with him closely on a variety of issues, from Thanksgiving dinners to dealing with Marlton Square. Pastor Billy Ingram is the centerpiece of that church and he has a commitment to the community. In addition, he touches people’s lives in the surrounding areas. I have nothing but great things to say about him. It’s just amazing he passed away when I saw him no less than a week ago,” he said.
Andrae Russell of KJLH Radio counted Dr. Ingram as one of his closest friends. “He was the first pastor I met when I moved to Los Angeles about 20 years ago. Maranatha was the first church I attended and I considered myself a member. I’m really just devastated by this because Pastor Billy was such an incredible, upstanding man in our community and also an incredible man of God.
“He did a piece that I think is the greatest ever done called “The Legacy.” Cedric ‘Hollywood’ Robinson, one of our DJs, said, ‘His ‘Legacy’ is now indeed a legacy,'” said Russell. Dr. Ingram wrote the poem in 2003 and it aired first on KJLH. ‘The Legacy’ continues to be broadcast on stations nationwide, most frequently during Black History Month.
“Rev. Billy Ingram was tall in stature, spirit, and social justice. It is heaven’s gain and the community’s loss,” said Rev. Mark Whitlock of Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church in Irvine.
Councilman Herb Wesson reflected, “He has been a phenomenal leader in our community for as long as I can remember. This is a tremendous loss, not just for the city of Los Angeles, but the entire country. He will be missed.”
Commenting on the dynamic ministry of Dr. Ingram, Pastor Xavier Thompson of Southern M.B. Church said, “His legacy speaks for itself. He was one of a kind, unique, integral, a man of character and vision. He had a wealth of knowledge God had deposited in him. Also, he had wisdom – he knew what to do and how to do – he was a visionary.”
Dr. Ingram was a dedicated scholar who strongly believed in the value of education. After graduating from Inglewood’s Morningside High School in 1970, he received a full scholarship to the University of Oregon but then received the call to preach. Transferring to Biola University, Dr. Ingram graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1975. He eventually earned a PhD in history, with an emphasis in Greek and Hebrew, from the California School of Theology.
His international travels have resulted in his ministry being popular in Europe and African as well as in many cities in the United States. He also visited Korea with a group of Korean pastors and led several African American pastors on a trip to Israel where they were greeted by the Minister of Tourism.
Services for Pastor Ingram were pending at Sentinel press time.
Due to the overwhelming request to attend the homegoing services for Dr. Billy G. Ingram, we have changed the date, time and location to the following:
Friday, March 18, 2011
West Angeles Church of God in Christ
West Angeles Cathedral
3600 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Repast immediately following service at:
Maranatha Community Church
3800 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008