“If God could do this with a dilapidated furniture store, just think of what He could do with your life.” – Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., Los Angeles Times, 2001
West Angeles Church of God In Christ is a 24,000-member Pentecostal-Holiness Christian church which is a member of the Church of God in Christ denomination. Its main place of worship, the West Angeles Cathedral, is located in the Historic Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, California, an African American ethnic enclave. Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. serves as Chief Shepherd of West Angeles.
The Early Years
The church was founded in 1943 by Elder Clarence E. Church. The first sanctuary was located in the heart of Los
Angeles in a small store front on Vermont Avenue. A new and more permanent home was built at 3501 West Adams Boulevard, which opened its doors in 1955.
After Elder Church passed away in 1968, the search for a new minister began. At that time, a young Elder Charles E. Blake, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, had been serving in the ministry in San Diego under his father, Bishop J.A. Blake. He was appointed pastor of West Angeles in 1969.
Beginning with only a 50-member congregation, the dynamic leadership and ministry of the young Reverend Blake began to take form. The 1970s brought a membership explosion. “Every year, the congregation would double in size,” remembers Bishop Blake, “and by 1976, we began looking for a new site upon which to build.”
An old furniture store at 3045 Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles proved to be an ideal location for the new church. “When we started building on Crenshaw,” said (now Presiding Bishop) Blake in a recent interview, “there were many people who doubted that we had the resources and the will and the ingenuity to do it…There were naysayers who said it would never happen.”
But in 1981, a 1,000-seat sanctuary, now known as West Angeles’ North Campus Sanctuary (pictured above), was built to house the growing ministry.
The rapidly growing membership wrought equally explosive ministerial growth:
- In 1984, construction began on the Education Building, Crystal Room, and administrative offices.
- The West Angeles Christian Emporium opened in 1986.
- The West Angeles Bible College started its first classes in 1987.
- The West Angeles Counseling Center was established in 1988.
- The West Angeles Christian Academy, which was founded in the 70s, continued to thrive during this period of unprecedented growth.
Reverend Blake became very active in the surrounding community. The West Angeles Community
Development Corporation was established in early 1994 to expand the compassionate outreach and neighborhood development ministries of the church, which had by then grown to a 15,000-member congregation. But as the number of Sunday morning services rose to four, plus a Sunday evening service, Reverend Blake found that it was time, once again, to build.
The new location was just two blocks away at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards. The 5,000-seat Cathedral was built from steel, granite, travertine marble, multi-colored tile mosaics and stained glass, with an interior design by First Lady Mae L. Blake. The new building was dedicated in 1999, and the late Bishop G.E. Patterson, then Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, preached its first sermon on April 28, 2001.
The New Millennium and Beyond
The Lord is fulfilling His promise to this ministry as dozens of souls are brought into the Kingdom of God each week at the West Angeles Cathedral, the North Campus Sanctuary as well as its many outreach ministries. Under Reverend Charles E. Blake’s Blake’s leadership, the church has grown from 50 members to over 24,000. On March 21, 2007, Bishop Charles E.Blake became Presiding Bishop of the Church of God In Christ. He continues to serve as Head Pastor of West Angeles Church of God In Christ, while leading its vision firmly into the future.
Through partnership with Wells Fargo Bank and the West Angeles CDC, plans are underway for new units of senior citizens’ housing in the community. Construction of West Angeles’ Family Life Center will extend the current Cathedral site to include West Angeles’ offices and new, modern educational facilities.
West Angeles Church of God In Christ, with its anointed, visionary Pastor, dynamic ministry, and extensive outreach services, has been recognized as one of the most influential churches in America today.