No one could have predicted the multitude of life-changing events that occurred during the year 2020 – from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic to the extensive protests against police brutality to the tumultuous presidential election. Yet, the faith community was front and center, making a positive impact and affecting lives for the better in every available arena. The following are some of the activities that garnered attention in the Sentinel’s Religion section.
January – West Angeles COGIC Pays Off the Cathedral’s Mortgage
Jubilation filled the air as Bishop Charles and First Lady Mae Blake simultaneously celebrated their 51st pastoral anniversary and burned the $65 million mortgage on the West Angeles Cathedral on Jan. 12, during the 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. worship services.
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.
The 5,000-seat Cathedral is located at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards in South L.A. Dedicated 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.
February – Founder’s Church Named as a Historical Site
Founder’s Church of Religious Science, which was designed by the renowned African-American architect, Paul R. Williams, has been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation was announced on Feb. 3, exactly 60 years and one month since Founder’s dedication on Jan. 3, 1960.
Founder’s Church was the culmination of the work of Dr. Ernest Holmes, the founder of Religious Science/ Science of Mind. He chose Paul R. Williams to be the architect based on his outstanding ability to convert Dr. Holmes’ vision of an “all embracing church” into reality, which now graces the corner of 6th Street and Berendo Street in Los Angeles.
The classic mid-century modern edifice includes a 1,483-seat auditorium and 400-seat lower chapel, is also available for rental and is frequently used for filming and concerts.
March – COVID-19: Religious Leaders Call for Unity and Humanity
As COVID-19 caused panic to ensue, the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders issued a call for people of all faiths to help each other instead of “buying up and hoarding toilet paper” along with food products and hand sanitizer.
In a statement released by the Rev. John E. Cager, LACRL president, the organization pleaded for everyone to “respect the dignity of each and every human being, helping one another, and in so doing we will get through this coronavirus pandemic together.” More than 20 faith leaders signed the document.
April – Carter Fulfills Dreams of Producing “The Clark Sisters” Movie
An unwavering faith in God gave Dr. Holly Carter the tenacity to work over a decade to bring “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” to fruition. The much-anticipated movie premiered on April 11, on Lifetime multiple generations tuned-in to learn how the group rose from humble beginnings to become international industry icons.
The film features Aunjanue Ellis as the sisters’ trailblazing mother, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Starring as the five Clark sisters are Christina Bell as Twinkie, Kierra Sheard as Karen, Sheléa Frazier as Dorinda, Raven Goodwin as Denise and Angela Birchett as Jacky.
Carter’s executive producing partners were Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Loretha Jones and Shakim Compere. Also, director Christine Swanson played a decisive role in transforming Camille Tucker’s script into reality.
“The message that I want people to take away from the film is that family, faith and the community are very important,” said Carter. “The other message I hope people will receive is that as mothers, when we see gifts in our children, we must commit to stir it up in them and help them cultivate it. And lastly, we have to put our faith to work, even in the climate of living in this pandemic. If we can fight to keep our faith over fear, there is hope,” she insisted.
June – Tulloss Leads Clergy in Protesting Death of George Floyd
The Rev. K.W. Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Southern California, assembled a protest on June 2, to honor the life of George Floyd, an African American man who was murdered on May 25, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Clergy from throughout the Los Angeles community participated to demonstrate solidarity and demand justice for George Floyd.
“It is not enough to remain silent. It is the responsibility of the church to shine light on dark situations. Now is the time for leaders of faith to voice our concerns in the spirit of our beliefs,” Tulloss stated.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Tulloss and the ministers in kneeling in prayer. Participating organizations included Baptist Ministers Conference, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Action Network Los Angeles (Pastor Jonathan Moseley), Churches in Action (Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez) and many local churches and pastors.
November – Charles E. Blake Won’t Seek Reelection
Church of God In Christ (COGIC) leader Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. announced that he would not seek another term as Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle.
“I have made the decision to not seek re-election as a member of the General Board or as Presiding Bishop. I have requested that the General Board grant me emeritus status at the time of the next election,” said Bishop Blake in the video available on the Church’s website.
Bishop Blake will continue as Senior Pastor of the West Angeles Church. His decision to not seek reelection with the national COGIC does not affect his pastoring in Los Angeles.