Several memorable activities occurred in Los Angeles’ faith community during 2016. The following lists some of the news reported in the Sentinel Religion section.
February 2 – The U.S. Postal Service dedicated the Richard Allen stamp. Known by many as the founder and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Allen was also a successful businessman, civic leader and social activist as well as a preacher. This year is the 200th anniversary of his founding of the AME Church.
LL Cool J, Dr. Kenneth C. Ulmer, Verdine White and Israel Consul General David Siegel attend the The Ulmer Institute Launch Celebration at Montage Beverly Hills on May 18, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for The Ulmer Institute)May 18
– Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, launched The Ulmer Institute, a nonprofit that will treat, research and train professional and community leaders to deal with urban psychological trauma such as shootings, stabbings and murders commonplace in many South Los Angeles neighborhoods. The project is a partnership between centers of faith, the Israeli psychological community, the Jewish community, Los Angeles-based clinics, hospitals and research universities.
June 2 – Pastor J. Edgar Boyd of First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles (FAME) announced that the church had finally prevailed in a four-year-old lawsuit against the Rev. John Hunter; his wife, Denise Hunter; and several others for inappropriately separating and removing the public benefit assets from the control of FAME church, without the knowledge of the congregation.
June 30 – The Rev. Herbert Nelson became the first African-American elected as the top ecclesiastical officer the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., a 1.6 million, 90% white denomination. Nelson previously directed the church’s public policy office in Washington.
October 15 – Thousands of people enjoyed local and national artists performing on the Brenda Marsh-Mitchell Gospel Stage at the 11th Annual Taste of Soul family festival. The McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour highlighted the afternoon session, thanks to the sponsorship of the McDonald’s Black Operators Association of Southern California.
November 15 – Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., was re-elected to a third term as presiding bishop of Church of God In Christ, Inc. The denomination boasts over 6.5 million members in 63 countries around the world. Blake is also pastor of West Angeles COGIC in L.A., a 25,000-member congregation.
May – The Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California saluted the Rev. Dr. Solomon L. Drake as he prepared to retire as pastor of Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Drake served 34 years as the church’s spiritual leader.
June – Jeffrey Coprich, founder of the L.A. Inner-City Mass Choir (LAICMC), stepped down after 26 years as director of the renowned group.
July – The Right Rev. Theodore Larry Kirkland, Sr., elected as the 114th bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, retired after 55 years of active ministry. Prior to becoming bishop, he served nearly 20 years as pastor of Brookins Community AME Church in L.A.
October – Bishop L. Daniel Williams retired as pastor of The Baptist Church of the New Covenant in Norwalk. He served his 44 years as a minister and social activist in Southern California.
October – Bishop Donald R. Cook, Sr., founder and pastor of Harvest Tabernacle Bible Church in Los Angeles, retired following a 45-year ministerial career. In recognition of his service, the Los Angeles City Council designated the intersection of 55th St. and Holmes Avenue as Bishop Cook Square.
March 23 – The Rev. Dr. Paul M. Martin, the first African-American president of the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) in Berkley, passed away on March 23 at the age of 77. An ordained minister for more than six decades, his pastoral assignments included 23 years at the Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles.
July 13 – The Rev. Dr. Whalen S. Jones, founder and pastor emeritus of Messiah Baptist Church in Los Angeles, passed away at 107-years-old. His 79-year ministry included 34 years as Messiah’s pastor before retiring in 1987.
October 17 – The Rev. Robert Lee Lockett, pastor of Bethesda Temple Apostolic Church in Los Angeles, passed away at the age of 65.
December 11 – Gospel legend Willie Joe Ligon passed away. He founded the Mighty Clouds of Joy in the late 1950s while attending Jefferson High School in Los Angeles.