Rising from the bottom of the AME Church to the top is the meaningful testimony of the Rt. Rev. T. Larry Kirkland. In 1977, the Rt. Rev. H.H. Brookins brought him from Mississippi to head the newly organized Brookins Community AME Church. This congregation had no members, so those from other AME churches attended the services.
As the word circulated throughout the Los Angeles area about the young preacher and his messages, the church grew rapidly. He was instrumental in leading the young congregation in many successful ministries for the congregation and the community, and had more than 8,000 members when he was elected to the highest office in the church in 1996. He was soon dubbed the “down home preacher with the uptown message,” that description follows him today.
Bishop Kirkland will preside over this session.
Mrs. Mary Kirkland, Episcopal supervisor and first lady, will preside over the Women’s Missionary Society meetings, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23. Their worship service will begin at 7 p.m.
Ward AME Church, 1177 W. 25th St., is hosting this session. The Rev. C. Dennis Williams is the host pastor. The opening and closing will be held at First AME Church, 2270 S. Harvard Blvd. The Rev. John J. Hunter is the pastor.
The Rev. Larry Campbell is scheduled to deliver the opening message at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 24. Rev. Campbell is the pastor of the St. Paul AME Church in Santa Ana. Business will be conducted during the day sessions.
At 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25, Dr. Solomon L. Drake will be the guest speaker at the Sons of Thunder Night. Dr. Drake is the pastor of the Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church. He will be accompanied by his Male Chorus, directed by the Rev. Harold Pittman.
A former professional baseball player, Dr. Drake played with four teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies, Cubs and in the Canadian League before entering the ministry. He received his masters’ degree from the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, and doctorate from the Southern California School of Ministry.
Dr. Drake became a member of Greater Ebenezer in 1962 and was elected the pastor in 1982. He has led the church in a tremendous growth where the edifice has been enlarged several times. Along with its many ministries, there is a Pre-School Academy that is very successful.
Dave Winfield, another professional baseball player, has been invited to present his personal testimony during the Sons of Thunder service. Winfield is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the College Baseball Hall of Fame. He was played with several teams including the Angels, Yankees, etc.
Lay Witness worship will be held on Friday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 27, the ordination service is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. and the YPD worship service will begin at 6 p.m.
Bishop Kirkland will deliver the message at the closing service on Sunday, Sept. 28, at 3:30 p.m. He will read the pastoral appointments at the end of the service.
The Southern California Conference Choir, under the direction of Ron Lowe, will provide the music.