A wide range of activities directly touched the religious community in 2017, both locally and nationally. The following is a review of some the most compelling faith-based stories covered by the L.A. Sentinel during the past year.
Bishop Eddie L. Long, a national-known minister of great attraction and controversy, passed away January 15 at the age of 63 following a battle with cancer. Highly acclaimed for his mega-ministry in Lithonia, Georgia, his reputation took a hit after several men sued him alleging that Long forced them into sexual relationships while they were teens attending his church.
President Donald Trump’s executive order on January 26 restricted immigrants and refugees from Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. The action, which resulted in the detention of Muslim travelers at airports across the nation, led to several protests, legal challenges and temporary restraining orders.
Bishop Miquail M. Broadous, Sr., who passed away on February 26 at the age of 47. Broadous was the pastor of Grace Temple Baptist Church and Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Los Angeles and Calvary Baptist Church in Pacoima. Multiple celebrations of life services were held to honor his memory.
Mother Barbara McCoo Lewis was installed in April by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake as the general supervisor of the International Department of Women of the Church of God In Christ, Inc., a 6.5 million-member denomination. A third generation COGIC member, she and her husband, Bishop James A. Lewis, Sr., are the co-founders of New Antioch COGIC in Los Angeles.
The Right Rev. Clement W. Fugh, presiding prelate of the Fifth Episcopal District of the AME Church, became president of the denomination’s Council of Bishops on June 20. In this capacity, he serves a one-year term as the official head of the AME Church in conjunction with his current position as chief pastor and administrator of the 15 states, including Hawaii, west of the Mississippi River.
The Rev. Frederick K. Price, Jr., resigned as pastor of the world-renowned Crenshaw Christian Center on June 25, after an eight-year tenure. While not citing any specific reason for his action, Price Jr., referred to his next step as a period of “restoration” that includes “attending service every Sunday for the next year so that I can hear the Word and be restored in order to fulfill the call of my life to ministry.”
The Rev. Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr., retired in August after 42 years as the spiritual leader of Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Nationally known for his powerful sermons, Wade has preached at churches, colleges and institutions during his 50-year ministerial career. He also previously served as president of the 300,000-member National Missionary Baptist Convention and on the National Board of Directors of the Gospel Music Workshop of America.
Dr. Rodena Preston Williams passed away on September 15, in Los Angeles. Known as a gifted pianist and director, Williams was a child prodigy who grew up to work closely with the late Rev. James Cleveland as his pianist and collaborator when he founded the Gospel Music Workshop of America. She served decades on the GMWA National Board of Directors and as the organization’s Minister of Music.
Thousands of people surrounded the Brenda Marsh-Mitchell Gospel Stage at the 12th Annual Taste of Soul Family Festival on October 21. The incredible praise party featured local performers assembled by Pastor Kelvin Sauls and his team at Holman United Methodist Church along with national artists sponsored by the McDonald’s Black Operators of Southern California.
A man dressed in black tactical-style gear opened fire inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, making the event the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history. Those who passed away ranged from ages 5-to-72 years old. The shooter, identified as Devin Kelley, a 26-year-old white male, fired a Ruger AR rifle during the church’s 11 a.m. service. Later, Kelley was reported dead due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, announced in November that a new church plant will open on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles in early 2018. The ministry is named COR – Champions on the Road and will be housed in the Union Rescue Mission’s chapel. Worship services and Bible Study will be offered as well as a range of outreach programs for men, women, youth and seniors.
“We are going down there to establish an ongoing presence of a spiritual community. We want it to be on the level of quality as in Inglewood,” said Ulmer.