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Rev. Dr. Billy Ingram
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
Reflections on the remarkable legacy of the Rev. Dr. Billy Ingram continue to flow from the ecumenical community in greater Los Angeles.
Dr. Ingram, founder and pastor of Maranatha Community Church, unexpectedly passed on March 8 after nearly 40 years in the ministry. Thousands are expected to attend his homegoing services on Friday, March 18, at 11 a.m., at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, 3600 Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Dr. Ingram will lie in state on Thursday, March 17, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Maranatha, located at 3800 Martin Luther King Boulevard in Los Angeles. Also, following Friday's homecoming service, the repast will be held at Maranantha.
In response to news of his untimely death, a standing-room only crowd packed the Maranatha sanctuary for a Memorial Celebration last Tuesday. Rev. Dr. Melvin Wade, pastor of Mount Moriah Baptist Church and a personal friend of Dr. Ingram, led the spirited service consisting of praise, music and tributes. Several family members attended including his wife, Solombra, his children and his siblings.The commemoration featured performances by recording artists Stevie Wonder, Phillip Bailey and Dawnn Lewis as well as accolades from Rev. Dr. Lewis Logan II, pastor of Ruach Christian Community Fellowship; Rev. Michael Eagle, pastor of St. Mark A.M.E. Church; and broadcasters Kevin Nash and Andre Russell of KJLH-FM radio station. The evening concluded with the playing of Dr. Ingram's popular recording, "The Legacy," and Wonder, the owner of KJLH, announced the station will air the song daily at midnight.
Solombra Ingram said, "I and my entire family appreciate the kindness and the tremendous outpouring of love. I love you with my life!"
Over the past nine days, expressions of condolence and comfort have been non-stop. Bishop Noel Jones, pastor of City of Refuge, shared his sympathies with the family and Apostle Frederick and Dr. Betty Price, presiding prelates of Crenshaw Christian Center, issued a statement.
"We were shocked and saddened at the news of Dr. Billy Ingram's passing. Billy has been a long time friend of ours and in fact, served faithfully as an assistant pastor at Crenshaw Christian Center many years ago. Our love and prayers go out to Solombra, the Ingram family at large and the Maranatha Community Church family," said Apostle and Dr. Price.
Pastor Beverly "Bam" Crawford of Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church added, "Pastor Ingram and I started out in ministry together, almost 38 years ago. He was a youth pastor and I was a Sunday School teacher and youth worker. I remember his incredible memory. He was gifted to memorize large portions of the Bible. Through his broad understanding of languages, that caused him to be known as a knowledgeable Bible teacher. My prayers are with his family and his congregants and I pray for a smooth transition."
Throughout his ministry, Dr. Ingram touched the lives of countless people with powerful preaching and community outreach programs. But those close to him were just as deeply affected by his steadfast commitment to God and society.
Dr. Wade recalled that during his long association with Dr. Ingram, they often discussed strategies to aid African Americans. "Dr. Billy Ingram was my dear friend and we spent time communicating with each other. He really tried to get African American youth to be their best self.
"Our gravest concerns were that there is this apathy where the church is concerned. These are rough days and, as a people, we have a history of ‘making our way to the church.' That's not happening in this day and time," he said.
To honor the memory of Dr. Ingram, Dr. Wade advised, "The best way is to be your best self. Don't try to get heroes from the television. We want to have heroes in our own homes, under our own roofs."
Dr. Edward Haygood, pastor of Agape Christian Fellowship of Los Angeles, had a decades-long friendship with Dr. Ingram. "I met Billy when he was a very young man and still in college. He was a person I was drawn to and he was drawn to me. We really got along well. We studied the Hebrew language together and studied the Greek language together. Even when I was in seminary, he came to the same seminary. So, our lives kind of followed the same path.
"Billy had an anointing on his life and God just really used him. He built a powerful ministry. He was a righteous man, studied the word of God, loved it, and memorized it, could preach it and teach it. He wanted everybody else to have that same experience he had with the word of God," said Dr. Haygood.
"I just appreciate his input into my life. Even though I was older, I learned a lot from him. Like the Bible says, ‘a child shall lead them,' Well, a young man did lead me," he said.
In addition to his wife, Solombra, Dr. Ingram's survivors are three sons, twins Samuel and Solomon and Billy G. Ingram II; two daughters, Marian and Karis; mother, Anna Juanita Ingram; one brother, Michael; three sisters, Stacey Ingram Gipson, Taanasa Ingram, and Stephanie Ingram; and a host of faithful church members, nieces, nephews and friends. His father, Will Chester Ingram, and sister, Trina Ingram-Weir, preceded him in death.
The family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made payable to the Billy G. Ingram Legacy Educational Fund. Contributions are accepted online at www.maranathala.org or mailed to the Maranatha Church office at 3800 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008.