Jubilation filled the air as Bishop Charles and First Lady Mae Blake simultaneously celebrated their 51st pastoral anniversary and burned the $65 million mortgage on the West Angeles Cathedral.
The joyous observance, attended by thousands of members of West Angeles Church of God in Christ along with several special guests, was held on Jan. 12, during the 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. worship services.
Bishop Joe Ealy, presiding prelate of the denomination’s Southern California First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, delivered uplifting sermons at the morning services and the Grammy-winning artist Kurt Carr performed with the Kurt Carr Singers at all three services.
Ealy, who is also pastor of Gospel Memorial COGIC in Long Beach, has been a close friend of Bishop Blake for many years and Blake fondly refers to Ealy as “my bishop.” Carr served 19 years with West Angeles’ Music Department before launching his professional career.
In addition to the Blakes’ leadership, several West Angeles members also played key roles in the campaign to pay off the mortgage. They included businessman and NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his wife, author and businesswoman Cookie Johnson, West Angeles Chief Operating Officer Gladys Ross, and Charles Quarles of The Bedford Group. Also, the West Angeles congregation donated more than $30 million to the effort.
The 5,000-seat Cathedral is located at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards in South L.A. Dedicated in 1999, the stunning edifice was built from steel, granite, travertine marble, multi-colored tile mosaics and stained glass. First Lady Blake designed the building’s interior.
“Paying off the Cathedral’s mortgage ensures that the Crenshaw Corridor will forever have a house of worship that cares about its community,” said Bishop Blake in October 2019. At that time, he announced that West Angeles had sold several properties to construct its Family Life Center, pay off the mortgage on the Cathedral, establish a financial reserve and contribute to the improvement and development of the Crenshaw Corridor.