The Men and women we’ve lost during this COVID-19 season.
Remembering the men and women who are no longer with us . . .
Hailey Herrera was a promising therapist with a God-given gift for helping others and giving good advice. Only 25 years old, she was working on her Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling when she caught the virus while seeing patients as an intern. Her mother used to call her “Dear Abby” because everyone would come to her for advice. Ms. Herrera died on April 7.
Detective Cedric Dixon served with the New York Police Department. He was assigned to Harlem’s 32nd Precinct in Manhattan North and was the first uniformed officer in the NYPD to succumb to the coronavirus.
Lila Althea Fenwick always knew that she was going to become a lawyer and she never saw obstacles growing up in harlem. Her parents migrated from Trinidad and were successful landlords, owning several properties in Harlem. Fendwick went on to study at Harvard Law School, the first Black woman and one of the first women to graduate. At her graduation in 1956, she was one of less than a dozen women in her class of several hundred. She paved the way for women like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, who started at the school the year after Fenwick graduated. Attorney Fenwick had a splendid career as a human rights leader at the United Nations. /she died on April 4 of complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 87.
On March 9, Zororo Makamba, a popular TV host, returned home to Zimbabwe after an 8-day visit to New York. He reported flu-like symptoms and developed a fever. Three days after he was diagnosed with the coronavirus, Makamba – son of Zimbabwe’s wealthy media mogul James Makamba – died in a Harare hospital on March 23. The graduate of Michigan State University and New York Film Academy was 30 years old.
The coronavirus is taking lives beyond our ability to fathom and without regard for age, race, geography or status. Rich and poor are dying, and class and pedigree provide no blockage against this deadly plague. In most cases, the discriminating factor is hospital care and who has access to ventilators and those who do not. This impact is being felt all across the globe and in our local communities. Numbered among those we have lost are actors, writers, politicians, bankers, physicians and nurses, police, developers, journalists, historians, animators, engineers, architects, producers, war heroes, lawyers, musicians, educators, drivers – a seemingly unstoppable list of men and women.
Clergy and faith leaders that are true to their divine calling are almost always on the frontline. They engage their congregations in worship to the Creator and are present at birth and death for the communities they serve. In times of rejoicing, they are there – and in times of sickness, difficulties and death, these men and women are present to give comfort, encourage healing, validate successes, challenge growth, and then, sometimes, just to show presence! The number of clergy ranks high among those we have lost.
The Christian Times expresses condolences and sympathy to the families of all those who have experienced loss during this coronavirus season, including the men and women who lead in faith. Unfortunately, the list continues each week …
Pastor Holly Brewer
Rhema Worship Center (Hackensack, NJ)
With a degree in Fashion Merchandising, Pastor Holly had an illustrious career as a fashion buyer for major department stores. Subsequently, in addition to being a helpmate to her husband in this journey called life, she also became his helpmate in ministry at Rhema Worship Center. Additionally, she served as a mentor in the Hackensack C.A.R.E.S. program. She passed away at the age of 52 on April 21.PAGE BREAK
Apostle Rebecca Brown
International Prayer Warriors Church (Brooklyn, NY)
Apostle Brown diligently worked in the ministry in various capacities – initially leading a prayer group while working at Interfaith Medical Center to ultimately serving as the pastor of International Prayer Warriors Church in Brooklyn. Her fervent labor in the vineyard and pursuit of academic excellence propelled by her vision, strong leadership and consistent prayer culminated in her consecration and elevation to the office of Chief Apostle of the IPWC Fellowship Ministries. She passed away on April 2 at the age of 72.PAGE BREAK
Rev. Dr. Gilbert Noah Burkett
St. Mark’s Baptist Church (Brooklyn, NY)
Dr. Gilbert was the pastor of St. Mark’s Baptist Church for more than 54 years. He passed away on April 16 at the age of 85.PAGE BREAK
Dr. Gwen Dingle
Pentecostal House of Prayer in Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY)
A beloved pastor and community figure, Pastor Dingle was known for her bright personality and powerful voice. She had a very successful tenure in radio working with the likes of Bobby Jones and BET. A leader and protective presence in the community who pastored the Pentecostal House of Prayer in Brooklyn, she fought hard for what she believed in. She was born in Brooklyn NY, in 1950 and died in her hometown on April 21 from the coronavirus. She was 70 years old.PAGE BREAK
Bishop Saint Christopher Zebedee Dowtin
Cathedral of Hope and Healing (Brooklyn, NY)
Presiding Bishop of Covenant of Hope International Assemblies and pastor of the Cathedral of Hope and Healing in Brooklyn. He passed away on April 7 at the age of 46.PAGE BREAK
Pastor Preston Drinks
Second Baptist Church of Baldwin (Baldwin, NY)
Pastor Drinks passed away at the age of 56 on March 3.PAGE BREAK
Rev. Scott Elijah
Bethany AME Church (Yonkers, NY)
A city servant and respected member of clergy, Rev. Elijah worked with the NYC Transit for over a decade and was known as “The Pastor of Yonkers” because of his involvement in his community. He was born on February 6, 1963 and died in his sleep at the age of 58 from the coronavirus on March 28.PAGE BREAK
Rev. Dr. Janesia Fuller-Mosley
Ebenezer House of Deliverance (Brooklyn, NY)
Rev. Fuller-Mosley was the former National Chaplain of the National Assocation of Negro Musicians, and served as the Dean of Students for the Anointed by God Ministers Alliance and Seminary. She passed away on April 17.PAGE BREAK
Bishop David Gates
Miracle Christian Center (Hempstead, NY)
He was the president of the Hempstead board of education and senior pastor of Miracle Christian Center in Hempstead. Bishop David gates was known as a clarion voice of faith, hope, justice and opportunity as well as a fearless leader. He was born in 1964 and died on March 25 at the age of 56 from coronavirus.PAGE BREAK
Bishop James H. Gaylord
Kelly Temple Church of God in Christ (Harlem, NY)
Bishop Gaylord served faithfully for years as the prelate of the Eastern New York First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ, and the pastor of Kelly Temple Church of God in Christ. Due to his heartfelt efforts and love for the community, he was instrumental in the purchase of local residential properties to provide affordable housing in the changing community of Harlem. He was born on February 7, 1935 and died on April 12 due to complications caused by the coronavirus at the age of 85.PAGE BREAK
Bishop Gerald Glenn
New Deliverance Evangelistic Church (Richmond, VA)
The pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Virginia, Bishop Glenn believed that the COVID-19 epidemic shouldn’t prevent anyone from praising God. Determined to lead his congregation through this pandemic, he held multiple services despite the social distancing warnings. He was born in 1954 and passed away due to the coronavirus on April 12 at the age of 66.PAGE BREAK
Rev. Isaac Graham
Macedonia Baptist Church (Harlem, NY)
Known as a mentor and counselor for many, Rev. Graham was quick with a joke but even faster to offer a word of encouragement. His caring and nurturing nature didn’t go unnoticed by his Harlem congregation at Macedonia Baptist Church, which he led for 40 years. He was born in 1953 and died from coronavirus exacerbated by diabetes on March 22 at 67 years old.PAGE BREAK
Rev. Robert Lee Griffin
Kings Ministry Assembly Center (Brooklyn, NY)
Rev. Griffin passed away on March 30.PAGE BREAK
Apostle William Harrell, Jr.
St. James Community Full Gospel Church (Harlem, NY)
As a teenager, Chief Apostle William R. Harrell, Jr. struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse — but God had other plans. Upon moving to New York from North Carolina, God’s plans began to manifest in his life. Shortly after his conversion, the Lord called him into the ministry and he was subsequently ordained as an elder in 1980. God then called him into evangelistic ministry. With the gift of bridging denominational gaps, this charismatic yet humble man of God served as the senior pastor of St. James Community Full Gospel Church in Harlem, NY. He passed away on April 17 at the age of 63.PAGE BREAK
Pastor Christopher Howard
Mt. Zion Baptist Church (Jamaica, NY)
Pastor Christopher Howard was an inspirational speaker and gifted singer who pastored Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Jamaica, NY. He was also a transit bus operator for nearly 22 years. A star quarterback during his high school days, The New York Post honored him as High School Athlete of the Week in 1986. He died at the age of 52 on May 3 after a brief battle with the coronavirus.PAGE BREAK
Apostle Callie Jasper
Holy City Faith & Deliverance Ministries (Brooklyn, NY)
Apostle Callie Jasper devoted her entire life to being a servant of the Lord. Called into ministry in the early 1960s, she was called to pastor in 1966. In 1992, Apostle Jasper founded the United Covenant Sisters International, Inc. to address the concerns and needs of women in leadership, which subsequently birthed the United Covenant Churches to bring together male and female leadership in the body of Christ. The senior pastor of Holy City Faith & Deliverance Ministries. She passed away on March 28 at the age of 81.PAGE BREAK
Bishop Roberto J. Jemmott
Nazareth Christian Fellowship (Brooklyn, NY)
Bishop Jemmott was a motivational speaker, author, and preacher that strove to spread the word of god internationally. He has traveled throughout the United States and the Caribbean, spreading his message. He spent 25 years on Wall Street as a Financial Regulator before leaving to become the senior pastor of Nazareth Christian Fellowship in Brooklyn, NY. He also served the United Covenant Churches of Christ as Chairman of the Board of Diocesans and Diocesan of New York State. He was born in 1956 and died from a heart attack worsened by the coronavirus on April 8 in New York City. He was 64 years old.PAGE BREAK
Father Lawrence Lucas
Retired Catholic priest (Harlem, NY)
A Catholic priest, author, human rights and civil rights activist, social justice activist, and educator, Father Lucas was a vocal part of his Harlem community. In the 1970s, he became the first African-American pastor of Harlem’s Chapel of the Resurrection Roman Catholic Church, where he served for over 24 years. He was a co-founding member of the December 12th Movement, and advocated for Black priests to have decision making within Black communities, and for prison reform and justice for Black and Latino incarceration. He was born in Harlem In 1933 and succumbed to the coronavirus on April 18 at the age of 86.PAGE BREAK
Rev. A. Charles McElroy, Sr.
Friendship Baptist Church (Riverhead, NY)
Rev. McElroy, Sr. served as the pastor of Friendship Baptist Church for close to 50 years. During that time he became known for his preaching ability and his heart of gold. An articulate advocate for social justice on Eastern Long Island, he sought to make life better for his parishioners and the community and large, and served on the board of several community development organizations. He was born in Texas on July 18, 1940 and died from the coronavirus on March 26 at the age of 79.PAGE BREAK
Min. Abdul Hafeez Muhammad
Nation of Islam (Harlem, NY)
Min. Muhammad was the leader of the Eastern Regional Headquarters of the Nation of Islam and the New York representative of Minister Louis Farrakhan. The founder and CEO of the Center for Self-Improvement, Inc., he was involved with numerous efforts to bring peace in the community as well as understanding among other religious groups in New York and nationwide. He was born in September of 1963 and passed away on April 11 at the age of 56 due to complications caused by coronavirus.PAGE BREAK
Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay
St. Brigid’s Catholic Church (Brooklyn, NY)
The first Catholic priest known to have died of the coronavirus in the United States, Father Ortiz-Garay spent the last years of his life at St. Brigid’s, a parish in a working class area on the edge of Bushwick. He was well known for his outreach to Latino immigrants in Brooklyn, particularly those who came from Mexico, like he did as a young man. Born in 1971 to a wealthy family in Mexico City, he became a lawyer and was engaged to be married when he felt a call to the priesthood. He left his fiancée and his legal practice, studied first in Italy and then at a seminary in Newark, and became a priest in 2004. He died from complications related to the coronavirus on March 27 at the age of 49.PAGE BREAK
Rev. Ernestine Sanders
Evangelical Christian Church (Jamaica, NY)
A ministerial speaker and seminar leader of international renown, Rev. Dr. Ernestine Sanders was the first female clergy panel member of former Queens District Attorney John Santucci’s Second Chance Program. She served as pastor of the Evangelical Christian Church in Jamaica, NY, and was president emerita for Clergy United for Economic Empowerment, a multi-service agency providing direct services in St. Albans, Queens and the Greater New York City area. She passed away on Easter Sunday, two days after her 89th birthday.PAGE BREAK
Rev. Tyrone D. Sellers
Rhema Word Baptist Church (Brooklyn, NY)
Rev. Sellers served on the board of Anointed by God Ministers Alliance & Seminary. He died at the age of 32 on April 11.PAGE BREAK
Rev. Hardy Smallwood
Rev. Hardy Smallwood, a former prizefighter who hung up his gloves for ministry, was honored as the NYPD’s first Citizen of the Month in 1991 for moving into a Brooklyn apartment house and helping rid it of drug dealers. With a commitment to make New York City a better, safer, place, Smallwood, the pastor of Holy Tabernacle Number 1 in Brooklyn, was also instrumental in establishing a joint citizen’s patrol after racial tensions flared between Blacks and Hasidims in Crown Heights. Smallwood also served the community as a chaplain and was often referred to as “The Gatekeeper” of Brooklyn. He passed away in his sleep on April 19 at the age of 86.PAGE BREAK
Rev. H. Gene Sykes
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (Bayonne, NJ)
A renowned faith leader in the Bayonne community, in addition to serving as the pastor of Friendship Baptist Church for more than 25 years, Rev. Sykes was also a volunteer commissioner on the Bayonne Housing Authority. He was also an active member of the Bayonne Interfaith Clergy and other community organizations. Prior to joining the ministry, he worked as an engineer and flight crew training in the US Air Force and for multiple private companies. He passed away at the age of 78 due to COVID-19.PAGE BREAK
Bishop Nathaniel Townsley, Jr.
St. Mark Holy Church (Brooklyn, NY)
The Senior Pastor of St. Mark Holy Church in New York, in addition to his long and distinguished pastoral career, Bishop Townsley was a great musician and his fingers were often described as “magical” on the organ. A child musical prodigy, serving as the church organist and choir director at age 14, he has inspired and trained musicians, choirs and vocalists, some of whom went on to successful gospel and secular careers. Bishop Townsley’s 50 years of innovative music ministry includes his pioneering work in stage musicals that set the stage on fire with live orchestras and exuberant choreography accompanying an array of singers. Bishop Townsley passed away on April 5th at the age of 72.PAGE BREAK
Bishop William Watson
St. John Baptist Church (Westbury, NY)
Bishop Watson has served as the pastor for St. John Baptist Church (Westbury) for more than 40 years and the Free Will Baptist Church (Freeport) for the past 10 years. He was elected President of the Long Island Conference of Clergy in 2016, and in that same year became one of the founding members of the Black Jewish Coalition for Justice (BJCJ). He transitioned this life on April 18 at the age of 73.PAGE BREAK
Bishop Carl E Williams, Jr.
Institutional Church of God in Christ (Brooklyn, NY)
Bishop Carl E. Williams, Jr. served as the pastor of Institutional Church of God in Christ for seventeen years, succeeding his father in this role. In the early 1980s, prior to pastoring, he directed the Institutional Radio Choir, which dominated the radio both through airplay of their songs and a 10:30 PM church broadcast every Sunday night on WWRL. The choir received numerous awards and recognitions. The nationally recognized choir recorded over twenty-nine albums and performed with many prominent gospel artists, ministering at the most prestigious auditoriums in the nation. He passed away on April 22 at the age of 79.PAGE BREAK
Bishop Joseph N. Williams
Christ Church International (Queens, NY)
Bishop Joseph Williams was ordained in 1975 and was later released as founder and senior pastor of Apostolic Faith Assembly, now known as Christ Church International, Inc. in Jamaica, NY, where he led the flock for 35 years. A sought-after conference speaker and proclaimed author, he was passionate about mentoring young men and women, charging all he encountered to “dialogue with your destiny” with exuberance and passion. He was the founder of the Berean Bible Institute and School of Ministry. He passed away on March 31st at the age of 72.PAGE BREAK
Bishop Marvin D. Williams
Saint Stephen United Church of God (Brooklyn, NY)
Bishop Williams knew he had a duty to serve God since he was a child. He founded Greater Saint Stephen United Church of God alongside his wife, Mother Callie Louise Williams, in April of 1974. Williams served on various councils and started several social service programs to minister to the needs of the total man and reach out to the community at large. He was born on July 9, 1934 in Rocky Point, North Carolina and passed away on April 7 at the age of 86.