Bishop Walter Hawkins
Love Center Ministries will be celebrating 40 years of ministry in Oakland.
Renowned for inspirational and liberating music, Love Center has brought national and international distinction to Oakland through its Love Alive Albums 1-5.
The Love Alive albums are a reminder of the early days of gospel when the music was on the edge of innovation.
The celebration on Friday , Oct. 19, brings together for the first time in decades most of the original song leaders of the Love Alive albums. Included are musical masterpieces from the 1975 release, when a then 8 month pregnant Tramaine Hawkins sung of “Going up Yonder,” to Lynette Hawkins (baby sis) saying to remember to “Be Grateful.
These artists took music to new levels, paving the way for present-day artists.
The ministry has gone through many trials and tribulations during the four decades, the biggest blow being the death of Bishop Walter Hawkins of pancreatic cancer in 2010.
Known to millions of fans around the world, Walter Hawkins was a pastor, songwriter and recording artist who influenced the world of Gospel, and his freeing words of ministry touched many lives.
Born in Oakland in Campbell Village, Hawkins and his older brother Edwin started their careers when they founded The Edwin Hawkins Singers with siblings Daniel, Carole, Feddie and Lynette.
“I remember eating lots of beans and cornbread,” said Edwin, who started playing the piano at age 5.
The collaborative family effort produced the hit song, “Oh Happy Day,” an international success, that sold over 700 million copies worldwide and won Edwin his first Grammy.
Answering his call to ministry, Bishop Walter Hawkins left The Edwin Hawkins Singers in the early 1970s to establish the church, starting prayer meetings at the family home.
Kenneth Hall, who has been a member from the beginning, says the beginnings were non-traditional.
“I remember sitting on the floor on pillows –it felt so communal,” he said.
“Prostitutes, drug addicts, people with alternative lifestyles found a place of refuge, as the congregation grew, needing something different,” said Hall. “Drawn by the music, people came longing for a home.”
Edwin says that Walter taught the premise of ministry is to be fishers of men and to let God do the cleaning. “Over 40 years, I’ve seen real miracles happen in people lives,” said Edwin.
The 40th anniversary celebration will take place Friday, Oct. 19 through Sunday, Oct. 21. Friday is the homecoming: Saturday night there will be a banquet; and the Sunday Morning Service will welcome guest speaker, Bishop Keith Clark from Word Assembly Church.
Tickets are available at Love Center Ministries at 10440 International Blvd. in Oakland. For information call (510) 729-0680.