By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor New Journal and Guide
Funeral and memorial services are being planned for Evangelist Frederick K.C. Price, the pastor who built his Los Angeles ministry into one of the nation’s first African American megachurches.
Price recently died at age 89 after being hospitalized for COVID-19 for several weeks in California, after he and his wife tested positive in late January. ABC7 reported the cause of death as COVID-19.
During his 30 plus years ministry, Price launched the Crenshaw Christian Center in 1973. His congregation bought and built the 10,000-seat facility on the former campus of Pepperdine University, a sprawling campus that includes schools, a ministry training program and a prison ministry. The megachurch’s televised services reached an estimated 15 million households each week before his recent death was announced in a Facebook post.
“Our Husband, Father and your Apostle has gone to be with the Lord this evening,” the statement said.
“We accept his decision to go as he got a glimpse of glory a couple of weeks ago.
But we are sad. Please allow us some time to process all of this. He fought the good fight of faith and laid hold of eternal life.”
Price previously served as the pastor of Washington Community Church, a small Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Los Angeles. He and his wife, Betty, were married for 67 years and were partners.
In 1962, the couple’s 8-year-old son, Frederick K.C. Price III, was walking home from school when a car struck and killed him, according to the church’s website.
Price’s televised messages were often controversial but he would hold up a Bible and urge his audience to read Bible passages during each televised sermon, so that they could fully understand the Bible.
In May 2001, he launched his first service in Manhattan at Crenshaw Christian Center New York, according to news reports.
Price, a Santa Monica native, met his future wife, Betty, in the early 1950s when they were both students at Dorsey High School. He wrote more than 50 books on religious themes.
“He chose to build the FaithDome in the inner city, as opposed to doing it in the suburbs, because he wanted to minister to the disenfranchised,” Angela Evans, his daughter and the church president, said in a recent interview in L.A. Times.
“He had a heart for his own people, people of color. He wanted to lift them out of their ills and raise their hopes, that in God they could be something, do something, raise their children well.”
His daughter added, “He was generous to his children. If they needed something, he didn’t say, ‘You know, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, you do the same.’”
Members of the church gave Price a Rolls Royce in the 1980s. In 2005, the city council of Los Angeles voted to name the intersection of Vermont Avenue and 79th Street after the pastor. He and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year, and Price was hospitalized due to the virus.
While Price’s views on the LGBTQ community and Islam were often challenged, his church has a school and a youth center, hosts food and blood drives, and provides prison outreach services. It employs about 150 people.
In 2005 the L. A. Times quotedPrice as saying that he had “nothing against homosexual individuals” but that the Bible led him to believe “homosexuality is an abomination.”
Price is survived by his wife, Betty, their four children, and 10 grandchildren . He stepped down as pastor of the church in 2009, handing the reins to his son.