Best Religion Stories in 2021 – LA Faith Community Sees Changes
The Los Angeles faith community has had another tumultuous year in 2021 while maintaining its faith in the goodness of God. As in 2020, churches and ministries have faced the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in campus closures, reduced donations and the deaths of many parishioners.
But a light has appeared with the distribution of vaccines to fight the virus as well as the implementation of protocols to decrease the spread of the disease. As a result, some ministries have reopened for in-person worship and have resumed some outreach services to help those in need.
The year was also marked by new faces in the great pulpits, another woman elected AME bishop and the passing of many giants of the faith, who paved the way for others to excel in spreading the gospel. . The following is a list of the main stories covered in the LA Sentinel Religion section.
February – Apostle Frederick KC Award Passes: The founder of the world-famous Crenshaw Christian Center has died of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 89. The mega-church builder led an international ministry that first spread through television, radio and books, and into the 21st century, through various social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube Live, AppleTV, ROKU, and Amazon FireTV. His television program Ever Growth Faith (EIF), which debuted in 1978, is one of the longest continuous Christian education programs on television.
March – Walden is appointed Pastor Holman UMC: Rev. Dr. Ken Walden was previously the President of Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as lead churches in California, Michigan, and North Carolina. Author of all three books, he received his MA from the Duke Divinity School, his Doctorate of Ministry from the Graduate Theological Foundation, and his Masters and Doctorate from the Claremont School of Theology.
April – Bozeman appointed to the Catholic Church of the Transfiguration: Father Anthony Bozeman is the first priestly head of the Church of the Transfiguration since 2014. His appointment will help the congregation to further establish itself as a Black Catholic Church. Before becoming a priest, he served 16 years in the military. Since his ordination in 2000, Bozeman has served in Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New Orleans before being transferred to Transfiguration in January 2021.
June – Thompson, the last original singer in the parish, dies: Talented, stylish and creative singer Madeline Thompson has 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 after the death of their famous namesake. Originally from Philadelphia, she was known for her portrayal of “Traveling Shoes,” which she performed while dancing on the stage or in the aisles of the shrine.
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 the Greater Ebenezer Baptist Missionary Church, which reopened on Sunday June 6. worship complements the virtual services each ministry sponsors through the web, Facebook Live, and YouTube.
July – Brookins elected Bishop AME: Reverend Francine A. Brookins, Esq., Was elected on 141st bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during the 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 Reverend H. Hartford Brookins, who served as Bishop of AME for decades. She was assigned to the 18e Episcopal district, which covers Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and part of Mozambique in Africa.
August – Dr Solomon Drake passes: Drake, pastor emeritus of the Grand Ebenezer Baptist Missionary Church, died on August 18 at the age of 90. He served at the Grand Ebenezer for almost 34 years. During his tenure, he led the members in the expansion of the building, the purchase of additional properties, the opening of a nursery school and the creation of a state-of-the-art library. In addition, part of South Denker Avenue has been designated “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.
Aug – Wesley assigned to Phillips Temple CME – Reverend Darrell J. Wesley has been appointed senior pastor of the Phillips Temple Methodist Christian Episcopal Church by Presiding Prelate Bishop Paul AG Stewart. A former pastor of Amos Temple CME in Riverside, Wesley is a retired writer and captain in the US Navy. He received his BA and MA from Christian University in Abilene, as well as an MA in Sacred Theology from Yale Divinity School; Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary and Ph.D. degree from Claremont Graduate University.
August – Celebrating the Life of Missionary Lillie Benbow Jackson – The community celebrated the life of District Missionary Lillie Benbow Jackson on August 27-28. She was well known in South Los Angeles for leading the 88e The food program of the Holy Temple of God in Christ Church for many years, which distributes fresh vegetables and groceries every Friday. Accomplished organist, she played for 88e Temple and for the Youth Choir of the First Jurisdiction of Southern California. She also co-chaired the jurisdiction’s Youth Sunshine Band, served as Chief Chaplain of the Women’s Department Light District. Daughter of the late Bishop Bennie Robert Benbow, missionary Jackson attributed her spirit of giving to “generational blessings”. During the Sentinel interview, she said, “I’m never going to retire because I’m motivated and if God sends you, you can make it happen. I believe I am chosen for this job.
September – Archbishop Carl Bean succumbs: Bean, a pioneering AIDS activist, pioneer of the LGBTQ Church movement and international advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, died on September 7. He was 77 years old. Bean was well known in Los Angeles for having established the Unity Fellowship Church of Christ (UFC) in 1982 and implemented the Minority AIDS Project (MAP) in 1985, the first such organization which began at a time when the disease was relatively new.
November – Blake II is appointed co-pastor of West Angeles: Presiding Bishop Emeritus Charles E. Blake has 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 Trustees. Previously, Elder Charles was assistant pastor and director of community relations in West Angeles. A graduate of Oral Robert University, he obtained his master’s degree in theology from the Interfaith Theological Center.