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Watch Night Service: December 31

RING IN THE NEW YEAR IN THE SPIRIT!

Please join us for worship with friends, family, and the West Angeles Community at:

WATCH NIGHT SERVICE

WEST ANGELES CATHEDRAL

3600 CRENSHAW BOULEVARD

LOS ANGELES, CA  90016

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Watch below as some of our West Angeles members share resolutions and wishes for 2017:

West Angeles Members List Their New Year Resolutions! from West Angeles COGIC on Vimeo.


AND: Join us in the beautiful Crystal Room for THE AFTERGLOW BREAKFAST after WATCH NIGHT SERVICE! Click HERE for more information.

Do you know the history of the Watch Night celebration? Click HERE to learn more.

The most important gift of all: give the Light of Jesus Christ.

The True Meaning of Christmas

Over two-thousand years ago, God presented the world with a gift: Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. In an act of faith and worship, three kings traveled from different parts of the world to bring symbolic gifts, each with spiritual meaning, to the baby Jesus and to His Family:

  • Frankincense, symbolizing the power of God and  the Holy Spirit
  • Myrrh, symbolizing the blood
  • Gold, symbolizing Jesus’ royalty and Kingship over the earth

Today, however, we celebrate Christmas by buying gifts for each other and making merriment with family and friends. As the season approaches each year, our attention turns to making shopping lists, checking for pre-Christmas bargains, and considering last-minute tax shelters. Unfortunately, Christmas, known worldwide as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” has become, for many, a tradition marked by gluttony, greed, depression or apathy.

 

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

What if we’ve gotten it all wrong? What if the true meaning of Christmas is to share Jesus’ Light with the world?  What if  the gifts we are to exchange with others are the gifts God has implanted within us to manifest that which He has created us all to be, and to establish His Kingdom on earth?

For, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6-7 (New King James Version)–

6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.      

 The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). Each and every one of us who calls Jesus “Our Savior” possesses His power of wisdom, goodness, light, and love. We are called to stir up the “zeal of the Lord” in order to boldly share His truths, and to manifest God’s will on earth (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

 

JESUS, OUR GIFT

In the season and Spirit of Christmas, and to honor God for the Gift He has given us – His only Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ – the sincerest gifts we could give to Him and to the world in return is to:

  1. Manifest the fullness of God’s call on our lives. The Apostle Paul, in the book of Ephesians, asks that we, in gentleness and understanding, in love and in peace, unify as one Spirit with the body of Christ, and “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1-6).
  2. Share gifts of the Spirit. In Romans 12, Paul outlines one of our clearest mandates for our life on earth as Christians: not to follow society’s ways, but God’s ways. We are to activate our power of renewal and transformation through Jesus Christ, and carry ourselves as His representatives in the world. Our mandate is to share the Good News of Christ through the gifts God has given us; whether in ministry, teaching, or giving money or possessions; through prophesy, encouragement, mercy, or leadership (Romans 12).
  3. Spread the love of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 15:11-12, 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

It is only when we bless God by presenting to Him our whole selves – our talents, our resources, our bodies, minds, and souls – that His Kingdom can be established on earth. Sharing Jesus’ light and love with others is indeed the true Spirit of Christmas.


Give the gift of LOVE this season…click below to give to West Angeles Church of God In Christ:

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TONIGHT: Please Join Us for Candlelight Service

Did you know that the traditional Candlelight Service  and the candle itself represents sharing Jesus as the Light of the world? The light and the fire represent the presence of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake and the West Angeles Church of God In Christ family invite you to experience and share the power of God’s Light. Please join us for the beautiful CANDLELIGHT SERVICE tonight at West Angeles’ North Campus Sanctuary.

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To learn more about the symbolism of Light, please CLICK HERE to read highlights from Bishop Blake’s sermon, “The Lampstand”, or CLICK HERE to enjoy the entire sermon on West Angeles Gospel On Demand.

 

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Elder Owens: The Top 5 Christmas Myths Debunked

Do you know the true origins of Christmas? The Christmas tree? Or Santa Claus? In this edition of the Elders’ Corner, Elder Oscar Owens reveals the origins of the Christmas celebration, as well some of its myths and traditions.

Santa Claus and Christmas trees, holly wreaths and poinsettias, colored lights and joyous carols, endless shopping and gift giving…these are the many sights and sounds of the beloved holiday called Christmas.

For most Americans, the Christmas season is a heart-warming time filled with delicious foods, wonderful fragrances, colorful fantasies and family fun. Yet, Christmas has also become a time of crass commercialism, consumer debt, crowded malls and crushing depression.

Yearly, faithful Christians wonder if the true message of Christmas is forever obliterated and tainted by the cultural expressions associated with the religious celebration. Is Christmas a pagan holiday? Or is it a Christian Holy Day meant to be honored and respected?

Here’s a list of the top 5 myths about Christmas, as revealed in the history of the celebration:

MYTH#1: Christmas was once a pagan holiday. The idea of celebrating Christmas began in Rome in 354 A.D., when Bishop Liberius declared December 25 as the day for Christians in the western part of the Roman Empire to acknowledge Christ’s incarnation. This day of the winter solstice was a Roman holiday called The Feast of Sol Invictus. Christians were still a persecuted minority in the pagan, non-Christian Roman society of the day; therefore Bishop Liberius brilliantly seized upon this time of Roman celebration as a cover for the Christians to rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ. The besieged Christian community could now be protected and allowed to worship their Savior in safety. Interestingly enough, the strategy worked: the world does not remember the celebration of Sol Invictus, but each year is reminded that Jesus Christ, the Son of God was born as a little baby in Bethlehem!

MYTH #2: Christmas trees are mentioned in the Bible and prohibited. Is Jeremiah 10:3-4 a biblical injunction against the Christmas tree tradition? No. Further examination of Jeremiah 10 reveals that God is actually condemning the creation of wooden idols carved from trees.[2]  In fact, the Christmas tree originated centuries after Jeremiah 10 was written. In the 8th century AD, St. Boniface, an English missionary to Germany, cut down “the sacred oak tree in the city of Gelsmar.” According to The Christian Book of Why by John C. McCollister, St. Boniface, in an attempt to rid Germany of idolatry, instead gave the people an evergreen fir tree to demonstrate their break with paganism and subsequent turn to Christianity[3]. The evergreen symbolizes the eternal life we receive by faith in Jesus Christ. The book also states that on a beautiful Christmas eve night, the great German preacher and Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, saw a fir tree silhouetted against a starlit sky. The beauty of the sight so overwhelmed him that he could not find the words to adequately describe it to his wife and children. Impulsively, he cut down the tree, decorated it, and is perhaps the first person to bring an evergreen tree, representing Christ’s eternal life, into the home for Christmas.

MYTH #3: “Xmas” was adopted to take Christ out of Christmas. The XMAS abbreviation is really not a slight on Jesus Christ at all.  The “X” is actually the Greek letter “chi” which is the first letter in the Greek spelling of Christ. The “X” represents Jesus’ title, “Christ” or Messiah. This “x” or “chi” has been used by Christians for thousands of years as an abbreviation for “Christ” seen in the church symbol “Xp” or “Chr” in English.

MYTH #4: Santa Claus is based on a mythical figure. The tradition of Santa Claus stems back to the celebration of the feast day of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Russia. Nicholas was an important Bishop in the 4th century, known for his generosity to the poor, especially children. His feast day, celebrated December 6, was a time to give presents to children. St. Nicholas, or “Santa Niklaus”  in the Dutch language, eventually became Santa Claus in American English. The current image of the chubby man in a red suit was popularized by Rev. Clement Moore, a professor of theology at New York Theological Seminary, who published the poem, “The Visit of St. Nicholas” on December 23, 1923. The poem later became known as “The Night Before Christmas.” We can tell our children that the real Santa Claus, Saint Bishop Nicholas, was a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christian who did so much good helping poor children that he is remembered to this day in the mythical jolly man we call Santa Claus. We all can follow his example of helping to make life better for children and adults who are poor and oppressed.

MYTH #5: Many symbols of Christmas have no real Christian meaning for the Holiday. The Christmas tree is just one of the many popular symbols used by earlier Christians to communicate the message of the gospel:

  • The word “Christmas” is actually a contraction of Middle English words for the phrase “Christ’s mass,” a worship celebration and Holy Communion service honoring Jesus Christ’s nativity or birth.
  • The “merry’ in Merry Christmas is an old English term meaning “blessed” or “happy.”
  • The star on top of the Christmas tree symbolizes the star of Bethlehem which led the wise men’s journey to the Christ child.
  • The candle lights, according to Martin Luther who first placed them on the boughs of his own Christmas tree, are symbolic of Jesus as the Light of the world.
  • Holly wreaths are symbolic of the crown of thorns Jesus Christ wore at his crucifixion. Christians hung wreaths on their doors to let their neighbors know a Christian believer lived there.
  • Poinsettias came into the Christmas celebration through an American minister, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett, who brought the flower-like plants from Mexico to the northern United States. The deep red flower which peaks in December as striking in contrast to the drab foliage of the wintery north and was emblematic of the birth of Jesus – beauty in the midst of bleakness. Additionally, the brilliant red petals portray the blood of Jesus shed for all humanity during His sacrificial death on the cross.

Although commercialism has taken over the symbols of Christmas, at the heart of most Christmas traditions is a Christian message. For Christians, Christmas is indeed a Holy Day of celebrating the historic fact of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Share with your friends and loved ones the Good News of Jesus, God’s Love in  human form, given for everyone who will receive Him this Gift.

In I Corinthians 9:22, the apostle Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Christmas is a sacred time for us to spread joy and God’s free gift of salvation to a world eager to enjoy the warm feelings of the holiday season, and to all people who consent to believe.

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Elder Oscar Owens has a passion for helping others deepen their connection to the Bible and to the Lord. He currently serves as West Angeles’ Minister of Christian Education, as well as President of the West Angeles Bible College, where he teaches Systematic Theology. He is currently studying for his Doctorate of Ministry in Christian Spiritual Formation at Azuza Pacific University’s Seminary in Los Angeles, where he also teaches Urban Spirituality. He’s been married to the powerful singer and Tony-nominated playwright Lita Gaithers Owens for 31 years. Read more about Elder Oscar Owens HERE.

[1] Jeremiah 10:3-4 (NIV) 3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.

[2] Hank Hanegraaff, “Is Christmas Christian?”,  Christian Research Institute.

[3] “The Christian Book of Why” by John C. McCollister.

We can never be too busy to share The Good News with others. Our thanks to One Church Resource for the photo inspiration!

The​ ​W.A.Y. – ​How​ ​Do​ ​You​ ​Share​ ​The​ ​Good​ ​News? 

By Minister Donnie Briggs

 

Television, the internet, and social media can take a large share of our lives.  But have we become too busy to share the goodness of God with others?  Please join Westa.org and the West Angeles Youth Bible Study Group as we explore the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman church, and its impact upon how we spread “The Good News”. 

 For the past two months our Youth Bible Study group (The W.A.Y.) has been dissecting Paul’s letter to the Roman church. The Book of Romans is arguably one of the Apostle’s most popular books of the New Testament. In fact, we could learn a lot about Paul, and his position on Jesus, God, and His people, from just reading verse 16 of Chapter 1, in which he states: 
…For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes–the Jew first and also the Gentile – Romans 1:16 (NLT). 
At first glance, one may think that Paul is simply excited about this Good News, or Gospel, and how it makes us right with God, but what one may not realize is that like any good rapper or poet, Paul is using word play in the opening lines of his letter to strengthen his argument, and to get his point across to his audience in a way they could understand. 
 
 You see, to those living in Rome, whenever they heard of this word Gospel” (“Good News,” “Glad Tidings,” or “Good Message”; euangelion in Greek) it was usually in reference to: 
the Roman Emperor (i.e. Tiberias, Augustus, or Nero),  
● the status of the emperor as Supreme Ruler and conqueror of the then known world,  
● the emperor’s many victories, accomplishments and building projects, or 
● the vitality of the empire itself. 
 
However, when Paul used this term, “Good News” (Gospel), his goal was to make it known that he was referring to the true ruler and King, Jesus the Christ, whom through his own battle (sacrificial death), and triumph (resurrection) offered victory to those who would come to believe on His name and build His kingdom.  
In essence, Paul very intentionally “jacked” a term that he knew was very common to his audience, and reassigned it to the subject of his letter — Jesus, the true Crowned King. Paul realized that he was serving One who was far greater than that of Caesar, and who had the power to do what Caesar in all of his accomplishments could never do — offer salvation to the believer — and in that, and in Him, there was nothing to be ashamed of. 
I challenge you and your family to discover ways in which you can, boldly and unashamedly, profess the Good News of Jesus Christ to those in your communities, schools, and social media platforms. Discuss ways in which you can live your faith out loud, and empower others to do the same!
In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

Remain In His Grip!


Donnie Briggs is the Youth Pastor of West Angeles Church Of God In Christ, where Presiding Bishop, Charles E. Blake, Sr. is Senior Pastor.

If you have a unique way that you share the Good News of Jesus Christ with friends or with the world, share it with us below, or on social media!

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RECIPE: Healthy Eating for the Holidays

 

On Christmas, we gather with family and friends in gratitude to God for His providence. As Bishop Blake would say, “If God didn’t do anything else for us, we should still give Him thanks for the things He’s already done!” Our health, and our ability to awaken each morning, gives us another opportunity to make a change in our lives, an opportunity for the miraculous.

The holiday season is a time for honoring ancestors and family traditions, and it’s also a great opportunity for creating new ones. To honor our traditional feast in the spirit of good health, here’s a tasty, heart-healthy recipe that might even earn a place of honor next to grandma’s.

Sautéed Collard Greens and Kale with Garlic                                  

Total time: 45 minutes

1 lb. collard greens, washed and cut into ½” strips (stems discarded)

1 bunch Lacinato kale, washed and cut into ½” strips

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small bulb (or six cloves) fresh garlic

1 medium-sized red onion, chopped

1-1/2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 cup of water

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon blackstrap molasses

 

Heat oil in large frying pan. Add garlic and onion; sauté until garlic is lightly browned and onion begins to soften. Mix bouillon cube and water; set aside. Add collard greens to pan with ½ c. water mixture; simmer over medium flame for about 15 minutes, until greens begin to soften. Add kale and remainder of ingredients to pan. Mix well, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, until softened.

Alternatives: substitute “no-chicken broth” for an entirely vegetarian version; can use bagged, cut, pre-washed collard greens for a quicker prep time; add chopped smoked turkey or turkey bacon.

Many thanks to West Angeles member Sister Linda Ike for the collaboration!

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Christmas Holiday Craft Project

Do you have some extra time during the Christmas holiday? Devote it to a Christmas craft project! Crafts are a great way to spend time with loved ones and friends, and it’s also a great way to spend meaningful time with the children in your family.

Ornament-making is a great way to start your own Holiday tradition. Whether you’re spending Christmas with the family, or away from your own loved ones, this is a great activity to take time out to share the Christmas Spirit with those in a women’s shelter or home for the elderly.

 

HAND-MADE CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT
Here’s a project that’s simple and enjoyable to do – and a great way to recycle those special Christmas cards you receive each year by making your own keepsake ornaments.            

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Six (6) Christmas Cards                             
  • Paper or Craft Glue
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Compass (or Drinking Glass)
  • Ribbon


1. Gather all supplies.                                                

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2. Using the compass or glass and your pencil, draw a circle around the area on each of your cards you want to use for your ornament. Cut out all six circles.

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3. Using your ruler, draw a square inside of each circle (make sure the corners of the square touch the edge of the circle). Score, and fold upwards along the edges of each square to create a flap (see photo below).

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4. Glue the back of each flap, and attach five of the circles until the ornament takes shape.

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5. Punch a small hole in the center of the sixth circle. Make a loop with the ribbon and knot underneath. Glue top to remaining flaps.

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You can also adorn and personalize your ornaments with family photographs, glitter, crystals, shells, or other special items.  

As it says in Exodus 31:3-5 (NIV)  –

3 “and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills; 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts” 

Working with our hands by engaging in crafts with loved ones or those in need of cheer during the Christmas season can be our own way to bless God.

                                       

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Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake: The Denial of Self

Do you want to know the qualities needed for true success in life? Do you want to grow in character? Do you know what it means to deny yourself? Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake shares his own story of  challenges he faced as a young man, and the humble beginnings of the church in his November 27, 2016 sermon titled, “The Denial of Self.”

“There was one period in Georgia when I was working on my master’s degree. I had to take a full-time job as a janitor in the public schools of Atlanta. Worked 40 hours a week and took home $45 a week. I went to school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., then I worked from 3 p.m. until midnight, cleaning classrooms in the public schools. I slept from midnight to 7 a.m., then did some homework and other work.

“This was a time of hardship, but later on, more sacrifice and self-denial was required. All West Angeles made my first year as pastor was $12,000 total. The secretary had to be paid. The janitor had to be paid. The bills had to be paid. The musicians had to be paid…all out of that $12,000. But it took all that to make me, and it took all that to prepare me. Now, 47 years later, I can look back and say, ‘It was worth it all.’

“The Church of God In Christ exists in 82 nations of the world.  There are more than 12,000 churches, 250 bishops; it is a world-wide denomination. Look at your neighbor and say, ‘Don’t hate…celebrate! If God is blessing West Angeles, and you bless West Angeles, then God will bless you too.”

-Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

 

The Denial of Self

Mark 8:34- Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

“It was RD Hitchcock who said, ‘Of all sorts of earthly good the price must be self-denial. The lower must be sacrificed for the greater; the coarser must give place to the finer. Every step toward progress is a sacrifice.’”

“The secret of all success is to know how to deny yourself.”

“Men…must deny themselves some present pleasure in order to obtain some future benefit.”

“If the farmer eats or sells all that his ground produces, he’ll have nothing to plant for the next season.”

“The woman who’s about to bear a child has to practice self-denial…She must face much difficulty, much discomfort, and much pain.”

“The investor…must invest his money in areas where the money will grow and bring a financial return.”

“Even the athlete…denies himself of relaxation until after he has obtained the victory. He explains his sacrifice by saying, “I’m training for the contest.”

“The manner of self-denial is something that many young people have great difficulty dealing with and accepting. Everything they want, they want now.”

“It’s unfortunate that some people spend everything they get…Look at your neighbor and say, ‘Lay something aside for the future.’”quote-sacrifice

“Look toward your neighbor and say, ‘Hey Neighbor: most of the great things in life are attained after a period of self-denial.’”

“Many young people don’t have time to go to college. They just want a job now, so they can get some wheels and buy some rags.”

“When you marry, you’ll find yourself needing more than you can make.”

“You find many folk acting like they’re something instead of being something.”

“Listen: clothes don’t make the man woman there are many thing s in life more important than clothes.”

“Here you come looking sharp: all vogue; and also, all vague.”

“You’re dressed up, but your house is falling apart.  You’re dressed up, but you can hardly pay your bills.  You need to reevaluate things, before God turns the tables.”

“You look like a millionaire, but you can’t pay your tithe…I told you I was going to need a praying church!”

“I know how cool it is to be cool; how together it is to be together, but if you don’t build a foundation everything will fall apart.

“Is there anybody in here who knows that God can turn the tables?”

“Young folk: the best things in life are attained after a period of self-denial. I know how cool it is to be cool; how together it is to be together, but if you don’t build a foundation everything will fall apart.”

“Get a good education. Choose a good profession that will be in demand. Prepare yourself for that, and your moment will come.”

“Don’t look for some short cut in life; don’t look for the easy way. The easy way seldom exists.”

“For every good thing accomplished, some bad thing will have to be rejected.”

“Jesus Himself was a pattern of self-denial. The Son of God looked down on our predicament and saw that we were separate from God who is a source of life and source of blessing…He came down to this pitiful earth to die in our places.”

“Jesus did not have to die on the cross, but He let God’s will replace His will. Will you raise your hand and say, ‘Lord, thy will be done?’”

“Death is just a doorway into the presence of almighty God; a doorway into eternity.”

“If you make the sacrifice, if you pay the price, then God will take you higher than you’ve ever gone before.”

“This is what it means to deny yourself: to let God’s will replace your will. To give up all right to yourself…to totally reorient your life toward God.”

“Self-denial is removing ‘self’ from the throne of your life.”

“Look out on the earth: whatever bad thing you see, self-will is responsible for it.”

“The will of God leads us on a path to God; the will of self leads us a way from God and in the opposite direction.”

“We must either deny God and follow self, or deny self and follow God.”

“Why do we fail to witness? Because we’ve not denied ourselves. Why do we fail to pray and praise God like we should? Because we’ve not denied ourselves. Why do we fail to serve God and to give to the work of God? Because we’ve not denied ourselves.”

“There’s nothing wrong with things: you just can’t let them come before God.”

“God has to be first: first in your mind, first in your heart, first in your will.”

“Tell your neighbor, ‘My due season is on the way!’”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – Mark 8:34-36, John 3:16, Romans 10:3, Proverbs 14:12, 2 Timothy 3:12 , Isaiah 40:30-31.


Please CLICK HERE to purchase this entire sermon titled, “Denial of Self”on West Angeles Video on DemandTo purchase this entire service on CD or DVD, please visit the West Angeles Emporium.

Psalmist Nikki Potts ministered to the West Angeles congregation on November 27, 2016. Watch her sermonic selection performance from 2015 at West Angeles COGIC below:

 

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Please Join Us for Christmas Holiday Events at West Angeles!

 

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WEST ANGELES NORTH CAMPUS Address: 3045 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016
WEST ANGELES CATHEDRAL Address: 3600 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016