Exclusive: Love Center Celebrates 40 Year Anniversary!
By Naomi Richard
Love Center Ministries (LCM), founded by the late Bishop Walter Hawkins, celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a night of music, a banquet and a grand celebration service on October 20, 2012.
What began as a small Bible Study in the basement of Bishop Hawkins’ home, caught on fire and began to grow rapidly. Soon the Bible Study group moved to a simple storefront at 8411 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland, California near Castlemont High School.
In a very short time the building became too small and the church acquired its first piece of property, another storefront, at 8901 MacArthur Blvd. Over the next 10 years, the Love Center Church membership overflowed the small, one room building.
Since its inception in 1971, the church has experienced tremendous growth, and now sits in an old car dealership at 10400 International Blvd. As an honorary gesture, a side street of the church was re-named Walter Hawkins Way by the City of Oakland.
Love Center has thrived tremendously at its latest location, but suffered a major lost when Bishop Hawkins transitioned to his heavenly home on July 11, 2010 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
The 40th Anniversary Celebration was filled with mixed emotions, as one could understand. While sad that the founder and pastor were no longer physically present with the church, the members were jubilant with the legacy that he left behind. Guests traveled from all over the United States to attend the celebration and to remember Bishop Hawkins.
Friday night’s musical celebration experience was absolutely incredible with lead singers returning with a reunion choir to represent the Love Alive I-V series of music. The evening included inspirational music by Pastor Daryl Coley, Barbara Rodes, Sherline Hall McCoy, Frances Pye Adams, Bernetta Rand-Dunham, Feddie Hawkins, Rev. Carole King, Leonard Conner, Mother Shirley Miller, Bishop Yvette Flunder, Evangelist San Franklin Jackson, Minister Edwin Hawkins, Tony Timmons, Minister Rusty Watson and Minister Lynette Hawkins Stephens!
The highly charged audience jumped and shouted to such hits as Follow Me, Come By Here, My Gratitude, Never Alone, When The Battle is Over, Solid Rock, Special Gift and For My Good!
“He [Bishop Hawkins] taught me how to appreciate music, sound tracks, horns and all different types of music,” stated Evangelist San Franklin who travelled from Nashville, Tennessee for the evening of worship.
Pastor Daryl Coley had this to say, “Bishop Hawkins was a special gift to us. I’ve been a member of Love Center since 8701 MacArthur Blvd. I was one of the first elders ordained and the first son of Love Center Ministries. This is where I got my start and I will always remember Love Center.”
As far as the future outlook, Pastor Coley had this to say. “God is still doing better things. It’s not over, we are going to continue to follow in Bishop Hawkins’ vision, plan and purpose. We will continue to carry on the mission of the church.”
The evening of music concluded with a surprise honor and recognition of Minister Lynette Hawkins Stephens for her many years as the Minister of Music. Minister Rusty Watson described her as the most recognizable voice of the Love Alive series, and as the iconic voice of all Love Alive projects.
As tears ran down her cheeks, JJ Hughes, Mark Brown, Pearl Ricks, Elaine “TuTu” Johnson and San Franklin Jackson honored Minister Lynette with a music medley of her own songs. The surprise recognition was extremely moving and appropriate for someone who has given so much to the gospel music industry.
“I was so humbled and surprised. It meant so much to hear the members say ‘Thank You’ for my service. They will just never know how much it meant and it was hard for me to find words to express myself. I was so overwhelmed,” commented Minister Lynette. She continued, “I am looking forward to the future, and expecting God to blow our minds even more. He’s not done with us yet, there is more to do. We have made an impact on the world, and will continue to do so!”
Stay tuned for more gospel news coming your way from the Love Center movement.