Rev. Dr. Bernard Black, was born April 23, 1927, in a small country town of Bullard, Texas, to Jessie Bell Miller.

Raised on a little east Texas farm by his grandmother, Liz Black, when old enough, he began working “in town” shining shoes, bringing money home to his grandmother to help support the family. He joined the U.S. Navy at age 17. After serving five years in the Middle East, Alaska, and the Asian Pacific, he was honorably discharged and returned to Texas.

Dr. Black married his high school sweetheart, Stella Byars, of Flint, Texas, and had two children, Bernida, and Gary. He moved his family to Phoenix, Arizona, for a better life and to find his father, R. L. Williams. His father and uncles, who owned a successful, construction company in south Phoenix, welcomed his family and taught him the masonry trade. A hard worker and fast learner, he became a masonry contractor, building many homes in Arizona and in northern California.

He began his Christian education studies after joining Union Baptist Church in Phoenix, under the leadership of Pastor A. D. Reid, where he served for years before he became assistant pastor. He earned his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in religious education.

In 1965, he became pastor of a small, seven member church at 2006 E. Broadway Road., in Phoenix. The church building was formerly a bar, but he accepted the invitation as pastor and worked with the few members to make the site comfortable and transformed it from a small one room church to a community facility that seats hundreds and serves thousands.


He celebrated 56 years of pastoral leadership in May 2021, at South Phoenix Missionary Baptist’s full service church. Under his pastoral leadership, Dr. Black brought thousands of souls to Christ including baptizing, counseling, marrying couples, and burying individuals.

In addition to serving as South Phoenix Missionary Baptist Church pastor, he was president of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Arizona for over 28 years; moderator of the Zion Rest District Association for more than 25 years; vice president of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, serving under four convention presidents, for 20 years; and a member of the Roosevelt School District in Phoenix, Arizona, for 23 years.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Stella Black, who was by his side when he became South Phoenix Missionary Baptist Church pastor and supported his ministry until her death.

Rev. Black passed Nov. 23, 2021.

Services were held Friday, Dec. 10, at South Phoenix Missionary Baptist Church. Interment at East Resthaven Park Cemetery. Arrangements were by Preston Funeral Home.

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