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Wade’s Retirement Highlights his Legacy of Service
By Cora Jackson-Fossett, Staff Writer
Published August 17, 2017

Rev. Dr. Melvin V. Wade, Sr. (courtesy photo)

Faithful, dedicated and steadfast are frequently used to describe Rev. Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr. As one of L.A.’s leading pastors, his stellar character traits have followed him throughout his lifelong ministerial and public service career.

Now preparing to retire after 42 years as the spiritual leader of Mount Moriah Baptist Church, Wade will be honored for his legacy of service during a weekend celebration. Renowned clergy, elected officials, business owners and everyday people will gather to salute his enduring allegiance to Christ and invaluable contributions to the community.

Kicking-off events is a musical on Saturday, August 18 at 6 p.m., at Mount Moriah, 4269 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. On Sunday, August 20, at 9:15 a.m., the worship service will feature Pastor Charles L. Thompson and members of Zion Baptist Church in East Chicago, Indiana. The celebration will conclude with a banquet on Sunday at 6 p.m., at the Westin Hotel Los Angeles Airport.

Pastor Melvin V. and First Lady Jacquie G. Wade (courtesy photo)

The two-day observance will be among Wade’s extensive collection of memorable moments. “I’ve preached citywide revivals in 20 different cities in the United States, traveled with Dr. Robert Wilson on a fact-finding mission trip to three countries in Africa and toured the Holy Land including the Mediterranean and Greek islands,” he recalled.

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Nationally known for his powerful sermons, Wade has preached at 10 U.S. colleges and universities including his alma mater, Bishop College and to nearly 7,000 people at Hampton University.  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.

“Talk about favor! I’m amazed that the Lord would tap me for this kind of an assignment and then to favor me the way He has is just an awesome experience,” said Wade, who has preached for more than 50 years.

President Bill Clinton and Dr. Wade at the White House. (courtesy photo)

During his spiritual journey, his father, the late Rev. J. C. Wade, Sr., the influential pastor of the 4,000-member Salem Baptist Church in Omaha and namesake of one of the city’s post offices, introduced him to national icons such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Fred Shuttlesworth and Dr. Benjamin Mayes. Wade also credits the mentoring he received from his brother, Pastor Emeritus J.C. Wade, Jr., of Zion Missionary Baptist Church in East Chicago, IN; the late Dr. Manuel Scott, Sr., of Los Angeles; Dr. S.M. Wright and Dr. C.W. Clark of Dallas, TX; Dr. W.F. Ray and Dr. Gardner Taylor of Brooklyn, NY; and his college dean, Dr. Richard H. Rollins.

“These men taught me the importance of praying a lot and reading the Bible, the principle of integrity, being studious in your preparation, and loving the people that God gave you to pastor,” he said.

Wade’s ministry has touched many people in Los Angeles, said Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., board chairman of the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade and executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel. “Dr. Melvin Wade is a man of God, a man of the people with a love and passion for serving his community.  But, I am blessed to be able to call him my friend,” he said.

“Whether it was organizing African American men during ‘Taking Our Community Back’ or providing meals for families after the rebellion of 2004 or going to jail while demanding justice for LaTasha Harlan, Dr. Wade has always been a brother that I could, and more importantly, the community could count on to stand up for what is good and righteous for all people.  I wish him nothing but the best and God’s grace, my brother, as you enter into this season of your life.”

Retired AME Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Sr., recalled that he and Wade became acquainted during Kirkland’s tenure as pastor of Brookins Community AME Church, and they still remain close.

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“He is one of the most outstanding preachers in the nation! I could count on him to stir the crowd and bless the people. I also participated many times in his Annual Prayer Bowl that he presented every New Year’s Day,” said Kirkland.

“Dr. Wade is also a man of strong character and kindness. He supported me when I ran for bishop and even after I was elected and assigned to Africa, Dr. Wade donated funds and resources to support our ministry. I am glad to be associated with him since the 1970s.”

Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church, expressed similar feelings about Wade, who he has known for decades.

“For almost a decade, I served as minister of music for Mount Moriah and traveled the nation with Pastor Wade,” said Ulmer.

“I accepted my call to the ministry under him in February 1977 and inherited his passion for study and excellence in the ministry of the word that has taken me around the world. He is my beloved father in whom I am well pleased.”

Reflecting on his ministry, Wade said, “I just thank the Lord for calling me to preach and I thank the churches that called me to pastor – Bethlehem Baptist in Dallas, Mount Pilgrim Baptist in Houston, TX; and Mount Moriah.”

Categories: Local | News | Religion
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