When it comes to spiritual leaders, the Rev. Dr. W. Jerome Fisher had few equals. A master teacher, powerful preacher, supreme administrator and friend of the people are just some of the descriptions that marked his long ministerial career.
After more than 62 years of spreading the Gospel and inspiring people locally and abroad, God called the Rev. Dr. W. Jerome Fisher home. He passed away on June 16, at the age of 95.
Dr. Fisher will lie in state on Thursday, June 27, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., in the chambers of the Compton City Council. A memorial service will take place on Friday, June 28, at 7 p.m., at Greater Zion Church Family, 2408 N. Wilmington Ave., in Compton. His homegoing celebration will be held on Saturday, June 29, at Mount Moriah Baptist Church, 4269 S. Figueroa St., in Los Angeles. The viewing will be held from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and the service will begin at 10 a.m.
Fisher’s legacy includes organizing the first African American church in Compton. He first led Little Zion Mission Circle with 13 members and transformed it into Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church where he grew the fellowship to a congregation exceeding 2,000.
In a Dec. 2010 Sentinel article, Fisher recalled the events that led to building his church, saying, “I first came here during the exodus of our so-called White brother preachers. They left here, leaving their buildings vacant.
“I was young and angry and although I had an opportunity to buy, I decided to build a church myself.
I wasn’t going to take a building these people left for me. I have been having hand-me-downs since I was born, so I felt great building this church.
“When I put the first shovel in the ground, I had $150 in the treasury and 13 members and half of them were children, so it was a challenge.” But Fisher stayed the course and over the years, his membership increased to thousands.
In addition to building the current edifice now known as Greater Zion Church Family, Fisher’s efforts extended beyond the church walls through the forming of several community outreach programs and his involvement in the civic issues affecting the citizens of Compton. His passing prompted a tremendous outpouring of condolences from people in the greater L.A. area and beyond.
His son and Greater Zion pastor, the Rev. Dr. Michael J. Fisher, issued a video message stating: “To every single person who has texted me, called me or left a comment on my Facebook page or on Instagram, thank you very much for reaching out to me. Thank you for calling the church to check on my mom and the family. It’s going to take me a while to respond to everyone.
“Please don’t take it personal, just right now, I’m trying to figure out what life is like without my Superman. We will inform everybody when the services are and until then, keep praying for me and mine. Love you, guys and love you, Daddy.”
Born March 11, 1924, Pastor Emeritus Fisher delivered the Word of God, without compromise, throughout his ministry. He was a popular preacher around the country and evangelized to international crowds in Seoul, Korea, Dominican Republic and other nations in the world. Many people were spiritually motivated by his recorded music as well.
The impact of Fisher’s work led to him receiving countless commendations and honors from faith-based and civic organizations and being twice named Evangelist of the Year. In 1988, he gave the opening invocation before the 100th U.S. Congress in Washington, DC, and in 2017, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Church of God in Christ.
In the public service arena, Fisher was appointed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown to the Century Freeway Affirmative Action Committee and later represented Compton on the commission to build the 105 freeway. He continued to be a sought-after advisor to elected officials and community leaders until his passing.
Fisher earned his Doctor of Theology degree at Yuin University in Compton and received two honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees.
Cherishing his memory are his wife, Norma; ten children and many relatives, friends and church and community members.