Mother Mable Ephriam was born Mable Bernice Strong on September 29, 1911 to Tom Strong and Laura Rawls of Crystal Springs, Mississippi.
She accepted the Lord as a child in the Methodist church in Mississippi. At age 15, Mable left Mississippi for Memphis, Tennessee where she graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. It was in Memphis that her Aunt Catherine introduced her to the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). She would go on to pattern her life after Bishop Charles H. Mason, fasting every Tuesday and Friday and praying every morning. Her children and grandchildren would wake up to the sound of her faithfully on her knees in prayer.
Mable Strong married Robert T. Ephriam on July 7, 1934. One year later, their first child was born. Nine others would follow, three of who preceded her in death. The young family joined the Mt. Zion COGIC, pastored by her husband’s cousin, the late Elder William Levi. They would remain at Mt. Zion until the family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1955.
In California, the family worshipped at St. Paul COGIC until they moved their membership to Emmanuel COGIC in 1964 under the leadership of Bishop Samuel M. Crouch. At Emmanuel, she was a member of the YPWW, taught Sunday School, was on the Mother’s Board, active in Prayer and Bible Band and, served as Bible Band President for over 20 years. Mother Ephriam was a fixture on Emmanuel’s 7th row pew, known for her signature rejoicing. She was also known for reaching out to children in the neighborhood and bringing them to church. She would be seen walking to church, stopping to pick up the children on her way. If they didn’t have a church home before they met her, they would have one after Mother Ephriam talked with their parents. This was all part of her caring and generous spirit.
While at Emmanuel, her humble home on East 32nd Street welcomed visitors from all over the world. It was always open, either for those in town for the Convocation or Women’s Convention, missionaries from Haiti and Africa, or just for local Sunday morning worshippers who would gather at “the round table” after service. She loved to cook, feed and serve. She paid her tithes loyally and helped raise funds for the Bible Band Report through The State Rally Program that she began. Emmanuel COGIC would remain her official church home.
Mother Ephriam valued education and intellectual curiosity. She began nursing studies at Jefferson Adult School then went on to Los Angeles Trade Tech, earning an AA Degree in Nursing. She passed the State Boards and became a Licensed Vocational Nurse. She loved to read and loved learning. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren remember her fondly reminding them to “get your lesson baby.” Her desire was to be a Registered Nurse but when her husband suffered a series of debilitating strokes, she turned her attention to him, believing her responsibility as a wife was to her husband. She loyally cared for him for 23 years, never once complaining.
Mother Ephriam was a nurturer, at different times in her life caring for her mother, her father, her children and the large extended family she attracted. She would always share Hebrews 13:2 with her children, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
She sought peace. She had a natural sweetness, always admonishing adults and children alike to “be sweet now.” She modeled her teaching on the teachings of Christ, instructing her children, grandchildren and all children around her to live holy and reminding them of her favorite scripture, “A good name is better to be had than riches and gold.”
The small town woman from Mississippi traveled extensively, another passion. By September of every year, she was already prepared for November’s National COGIC Convocation. In her lifetime, she visited over 25 states and at least two countries.
Mother Ephriam had a distinct sense of style. She absolutely loved wearing hats and fine things. But although she loved them, she didn’t choose fine things over Jesus. She was faithful, even until death. Mother Ephriam died peacefully in her sleep at 98 years old at the home of her devoted son and caretaker, Frank with her daughter, Mablean, at her side. As Paul taught, she fought a good fight, she finished her course and she kept the faith.
She is survived by her seven children, Robert Allen Ephriam, Mae Ephriam Stewart, Lee Ola Wade, Richard Carl Ephriam, Frank Charles Ephriam, Mablean Ephriam and Marilyn Walker; two son-in-laws, Lucious Stewart and Holloway Walker; one daughter-in-law, Ann Ephriam; twenty four grandchildren, Dale Ephriam, Diane Kelly, Jocelyn Mixon-Jones,Wanda Wade, Michael Wade, Deryl Wade, Fitzgerald Wade, Anthony Ephriam, Kerry Ephriam, Kecia Ephriam, Kacey Ephriam, Kiana Ephriam, Keenan Ephriam, Erica Ephriam, Mario Ephriam, Darrell Ephriam, Dane Paxton, Cassius Paxton, Tajamika Paxton, Darlene Allen, Gina Blackmon, Kisa Walker, Drake Walker and Shawanda Walker; two loving nephews and their families, Earl and Ann Young of Chicago, IL and Maurice and Faye Strong of Los Angeles, CA; her loving cousin, Jean and Charles McCoy of Detroit, MI; adopted children, Master and Marie DeBose of Grand Rapids, MI; 40 great-grandchildren, six great-great grandchildren and; a host of nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.
Services will be held Thursday, February 18, 11am, Emmanuel COGIC, 1399 E. 33rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90011. Repast at Optimal Christian Academy, 1300 E. Palmer St., Compton, CA 90221 (near Long Beach Blvd).