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Top Religion Stories in 2021 – L.A. Faith Community Sees Changes
By Cora Jackson-Fossett
Published December 29, 2021

Apostle Frederick K.C. Price (Courtesy photo)

The Los Angeles faith community endured another tumultuous year in 2021 yet maintained faith in the goodness of God. Just as in 2020, churches and ministries dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to closed campuses, reduced donations, and the death of many parishioners.

But a light emerged with the distribution of vaccines to fight the virus along with the implementation of protocols to decrease the spread of the illness. As a result, some ministries reopened for in-person worship and resumed selected outreach services to aid people in need.

The year also featured new faces in major pulpits, another woman elected AME bishop and the passing of many giants in the faith, who paved the way for others to excel in spreading the Gospel. The following is a list of the top stories covered in the L.A. Sentinel Religion section.

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February – Apostle Frederick K.C. Price Passes: The founder of the world-renowned Crenshaw Christian Center passed away from complications from COVID-19 at the age of 89. The mega-church builder headed an international ministry that spread first through through television, radio and books, and in the 21st century, through various social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube Live, AppleTV, ROKU and Amazon FireTV. His Ever Increasing Faith television (EIF) program, which debuted in 1978, is one of the longest, continuously running, Christian teaching programs on TV.

Pastor Ken Walden (Courtesy photo)

March – Walden Named Holman UMC Pastor: The Rev. Dr. Ken Walden was previously the president of Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia as well as headed churches in California, Michigan and North Carolina. The author of the three books, he earned his Master’s degree at Duke Divinity School, his Doctor of Ministry degree at Graduate Theological Foundation, and a Master’s and Doctorate degrees at Claremont School of Theology.

Father Anthony Bozeman (Courtesy photo)

April – Bozeman Appointed to Transfiguration Catholic Church: Father Anthony Bozeman is the first priestly leader at Church of the Transfiguration since 2014. His appointment will aid the congregation in further establishing itself as a Black Catholic Church. Prior to becoming a priest, he served 16 years in the military. Since his ordination in 2000, Bozeman served in Philadelphia, Washington DC and New Orleans before being transferred to Transfiguration in January 2021.

Madeline Thompson (Richard Nichols photo)

June – Thompson, Last Original Ward Singer, Dies: Madeline Thompson, the talented, elegant and creative vocalist, passed away at the age of 78. The last original member of the Clara Ward Singers, Thompson joined the legendary group in 1960 and extended their fame for decades beyond the death of its famous namesake. A native of Philadelphia, she was known for her rendition of “Traveling Shoes,” which she performed while dancing across the stage or in the sanctuary aisles.

July – Mega-Churches Reopen for Worship: City of Refuge, Faithful Central Bible Church and West Angeles Church of God in Christ all resumed in-person worship services on Sunday, July 4. They join Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, which re-opened on Sunday, June 6. The in-person worship compliments the virtual services that each ministry sponsors via the web, Facebook Live and YouTube.

Bishop Francine Brookins (Courtesy photo)

July – Brookins Elected AME Bishop: The Rev. Francine A. Brookins, Esq., was elected as the 141st bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during the denomination’s 51st General Conference held July 6 -10. Brookins, the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Fontana, is the fifth woman to be elected to the AME episcopal level. She follows in the footsteps of her late father, the Right Rev. H. Hartford Brookins, who served decades as an AME bishop. She has been assigned to the 18th Episcopal District, which covers Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and a portion of Mozambique in Africa.

Rev. Dr. Solomon L. Drake (File photo)

August – Dr. Solomon Drake Passes: Drake, pastor emeritus of Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, died on August 18 at the age of 90. He served at Greater Ebenezer for nearly 34 years. During his tenure, he led the membership in expanding the edifice, purchasing additional properties, opening a pre-school, and establishing a state-of-the-art library. In addition, a portion of South Denker Avenue was designated as ‘Pastor Drake Square’ by the City of Los Angeles. Prior to his ministerial career, he played professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies.

Pastor Darrell Wesley (Courtesy photo)

August – Wesley Assigned to Phillips Temple CME – The Rev. Dr. Darrell J. Wesley was appointed senior pastor of Phillips Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church by Bishop Paul A. G. Stewart, presiding prelate. Formerly the pastor of Amos Temple CME Church in Riverside, Wesley is an author and a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy. He earned his B.A. degree and M.S degree at Abilene Christian University, Master of Sacred Theology at Yale Divinity School; Doctor of Ministry at United Theological Seminary and Ph.D. degree at Claremont Graduate University.

Missionary Lillie Benbow Jackson (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

August – Missionary Lillie Benbow Jackson Life Celebration – The community celebrated the life of District Missionary Lillie Benbow Jackson on August 27-28. She was well-known in South Los Angeles for directing the 88th St. Temple Church of God in Christ’s food program for many years, which distributes fresh vegetables and groceries every Friday. An accomplished organist, she played for 88th Temple and for the Southern California First Jurisdiction Youth Choir. She also co-chaired the jurisdiction’s Youth Sunshine Band, served as head chaplain of the Women’s Department Light District. The daughter of the late Bishop Bennie Robert Benbow, Missionary Jackson credited “generational blessings” for her spirit of giving back. During the Sentinel interview, she said, “I’ll never retire because I’m purpose-driven and if God sends you, you can make it. I believe I’m chosen for this work.”

Archbishop Carl Bean (File photo)

September – Archbishop Carl Bean Succumbs: Bean, a pioneering AIDS activist, trailblazer in the LGBTQ Church movement, and international advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons, passed away on September 7. He was 77-years-old. Bean was well-known in Los Angeles for establishing Unity Fellowship Church of Christ (UFC) in 1982 and implementing the Minority AIDS Project (MAP) in 1985, the first organization of its kind started during a period when the disease was relatively new.

Bishop Charles Blake and Pastor Charles Blake II (Rickey Brown photo)

November – Blake II Named West Angeles Co-Pastor: Presiding Bishop Emeritus Charles E. Blake announced the elevation of his son, Elder Charles Blake II, as co-pastor. The appointment was a collaboration between Bishop Blake, Jurisdictional Bishop Joe Louis Ealy, and the West Angeles Board of Directors. Previously, Elder Charles served as the assistant pastor and director of community relations at West Angeles. A graduate of Oral Robert University, he received his Master’s of Divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center.

 

 

 

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