On Friday, Dec. 10, the members of South Phoenix laid to rest their beloved pastor, the late Rev. Dr. Bernard Black. The homegoing celebration of the Rev. Black was held at his beloved South Phoenix Missionary Baptist Church the place Dr. Black dedicat- ed his life unselfishly as a preacher, teacher, mentor, leader, counselor, friend, husband and a spiritual father.

The history of South Phoenix Missionary Baptist is rooted in 1958 when Rev. W. B. Smith and seven founding members organized the first church. In 1965, Reverend Black was a young pastor serving at Union Institutional Baptist Church. At the time, the church was laboring without a pastor. He hum- bly accepted the call after a unanimous vote by the board of the “Magnificent Seven,” On the first Sunday in May 1965; he preached his first sermon.

Rev. Black served as the loving pastor of the South Phoenix Baptist Church for almost 60 years. Under the ministry of Dr. Black, the church grew physically and many souls came to know Christ at the church.

Dr. Warren H. Stewart, senior pastor of First Institutional Baptist Church, served as presiding officiant. Friends, representatives of local and national churches, state and local government officials, as well as clergy members gathered to pay tribute.

The Scripture readings were provided by Rev. Jerry Center (Psalm 121) and Shauncey D Hatten (2 Timothy 4:7-8, New Testament), followed by a prayer from Rev. Raymond Walker.

The program continued with a musical selection by Sister Penny Young, she blessed us with a stirring performance of “I Know What God Can Do.”

A great outpouring of love, expressions of sympathy and other kind words of encouragement from the local and national community. Sisters Paulette Hudson and Kiesha Weathers presented resolutions from the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona.

Other special tributes came from the following: Pastor C. R. McDuffy representing the General Missionary Baptist Convention; Samuel L. Smith from the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; A. Wayne Johnson, general secretary of Progressive National Baptist convention; Pamela Vigil, principal of Dr. Bernard Black Elementary School; Lynn Londen, proprietor of The Londen Insurance Group; Judge Cody Williams, City of Phoenix; and the Hon. Katie Hobbs, Secretary of State.

The ceremony continued with a song by Bro. Dennis Smith, followed by a cordial introduction of the speaker, Dr. Melvin Von Wade, past president of National Missionary Baptist Convention of America.

Dr. Von Wade delivered the eulogy in honor of his friend, and former colleague. Then the service closed with a final song, “May The Works I’ve Done Speak To Me,” by Sis. Penny Young.

Dr. Black served as president of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Arizona for 28 years, moderator of the Zion Rest District Association for more than 25 years, and vice president of the National Baptist Convention of America. In addition, he serve as a Roosevelt School District board member for more than 23 years.

Dr. Black was preceded in death by his wife Stella Black of 47 years. He also leaves behind his beloved second wife of 29 years, Lillian Black, and a combined family of children: Gary Black (Stinella), Phoenix, Ariz.; Bernida Riche (Thomas), Nashville, Tenn.; Vicki Grant, Fresno, Calif.; Jerry Johnson, Phoenix; Kelvin Black (Francine), Sacramento, Calif.; Teartae Brown, Ardmore, Okla.; Freda Black, Phoenix; Barbara Calvin, Phoenix; Gwendolan Black Dasher (William), Chandler; Terri Scott (Greg), San Diego Calif.; Sonja Bowers, Chandler; and a host of great great great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, along with loved nieces and nephews and many long term friends.

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