October 22, 2010
In Memoriam ~ Dr. Bishop Arthur M. Brazier
It has been almost a year since I wrote through tears.
My former pastor, Bishop Arthur M. Brazier has passed.
I don't speak about my Christian views often, but much of how I feel was nurtured by his teachings. Bishop, as he was affectionately known, was a great man. Much like my own father, he was born of the South Side streets and rose from the desolate to lead a flock of wayward spirits into the light. He often shared with us how he was a "cool cat" back in his youth. Never ashamed to reminisce about his smoking and drinking and partying ways, he fashioned for us a timeline of redemption and fed us with the Word of our Lord often in the Greek or historical reference from which it came.
Born and raised a Catholic, I often bucked due to much of the idolatry that is practiced. Though I have since returned to Catholicism, I am very vocal of my love for Bishop and what he has meant to me.
My struggle with my faith came when I desired a stronger understanding of the gospel. I could not find it. A good friend of mine suggested Apostolic Church Of God. Before I knew it I was experiencing faith, love devotion and a deep relationship with the Word of God. Bishop had a "way" that really fed your soul. He broke scripture down into its complete meaning, from the Latin or Greek, and often gave us historical background to seal the imminent truth.
With a congregation of double digit thousands and growing, one would easily dismiss it if their pastor was unavailable or simply not around - NOT the case with Bishop. During my divorce, I needed him and he answered. It was a few days before Christmas. I was weary and raising two small boys on my own. He was rehearsing for the harried, holy, and televised, Christmas pageant, yet he did not even hesitate to meet with me - for hours. His words comforted me and blessed me, and even years later, he would check on me if I missed service or needed anything at all. THAT is a Shepard leading his flock.
I know this story may ring true for many of you. Finding a spiritual advisor, or leader is such a blessing and often a once in a life-time gift. I never had any intention of leaving my sorrow with anyone. Trusting and faith was a bit of a stretch for me, but Bishop was special and his blessings grew to draw in a congregation of over twenty thousand.
Bishop Arthur M. Brazier was born a Chicago South Sider in 1921 and served in a segregated United States Army. In his sermons, he often took us back to those days of juke joints, whiskey, and hard times. He also shared with us the special and enduring love he worked hard at with his beloved wife Isabelle. Many Sundays, she would sit right there and wave him on ... it often drew laughs and tears.
Bishop never turned church into a Black Expo. He was vocal about our past and how it shaped us, and how we should stand strong, but he left the political preachings to the politicians - and they often came to get our ear or listen to Bishop "PREACH".
As the sun sets on this wonderful legacy, I can only say, thank you. I am so blessed to have known him. I learned from him and spread his teachings and feel so much better - so glad that Bishop was born.
Rest well Bishop - now you will always be love.