Easter Sunday, the holiest of days to many Christians, is both a reverent and joyous event in African-American churches.
Some plan large celebrations, such as Faithful Central Bible Church, which returns to the Forum in Inglewood for this year’s service.
Others, like Lewis Metropolitan CME Church, have smaller, more reverent services, focusing on the humility of Jesus Christ.
Located on the corner of 49th Street and Western Avenue, Lewis Metropolitan CME Church has been in existence since 1946.
For the past four years, Rev. Wendell M. Oldham Jr. has been the senior pastor and he has worked hard to try and live the spirit of Easter all year long. The church’s feeding ministry feeds more than 5,000 people a year during their free Sunday breakfasts. The church also provides clothing to the needy and links people in need to a person proficient in social services to assist them.
“The people of Lewis Metropolitan CME Church and the community have a special place in my heart and life for Easter,” Oldham said. “A lot of what we do, especially our feeding ministry, speaks to who Jesus is. During the Last Supper meal that Jesus had with his disciples, he interrupted the meal and assumed the lowest position in a household and washed the feet of the disciples.
“This was done to show, that if he, the Son of God, could lower himself to such a humble position, then we as his followers are to do the same. So to feed the hungry every Sunday prior to worship service as we do is to model Christ’s character.”
Oldham believes that part of the power of Easter is in the events leading up to the day. On Good Friday, Lewis Metropolitan will participate in a special Holy Week service with other CME churches at noon at Hayes Tabernacle Church, 10121 S. Central Ave.
On Saturday, Lewis Metropolitan will host a holy treasure hunt for families from noon to 2 p.m. at Kenneth Hahn Park. The finale to Easter season will be an “Easter Extravaganza” musical held Easter Sunday during the 10:30 a.m. worship at the church, 4900 S. Western Ave.
Oldham, like other local pastors, sees Easter as a day that is as much about honoring Jesus’ sacrifice as it is about continuing to underscore the message that Jesus is still working today through his people in the communities where they live.
“One of the people in our community said it well,” Oldham said. “‘This church used to be invisible to the community, but now it is a light to the community and is truly making a difference in people’s lives.’”
Faithful Central Bible Church has always hosted one of the most high-profile and anticipated Easter celebrations in South Los Angeles.
This year’s service “Easter at the Forum,” figures to be another memorable event as gospel artist Tamela Mann, (“Take Me to the King”) takes the stage on Sunday at 10 a.m., in the newly renovated Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd. Inglewood. The service will transition into a full concert starting at noon, when Grammy-award winning, gospel artist Fred Hammond takes the stage. Admission is free and doors open at 9 a.m.
Since 1982, Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer has served as the senior pastor of the church, watching his congregation grow from less than 300 people to several thousand.
For Ulmer, Easter is a homecoming and a celebration of community through song.
“We are thrilled to return to the new fabulous Forum,” Ulmer said. “We remain committed to offering unique, life‐changing worship experiences for the greater Los Angeles community, by enlisting the best artists in gospel music to join our celebration.”
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SOURCE: Los Angeles Wave
Angela N. Parker