Bishop Benjamin Jerome Crouch, a longtime Pacoima resident who founded the community's Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ and father of Grammy award-winning gospel singers Andrae and Sandra Crouch, has died at his home. He was 78.
Crouch died Friday of cancer, a church representative said.
Born in Dallas in 1915, Crouch studied at Wilberforce University in Ohio and the Biola Bible Institute in Los Angeles. In 1939, he married Catherine Hodnett, who worked as administrator of Christ Memorial for many years. Mrs. Crouch died in 1992.
The Crouches began their work at the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Val Verde, preaching at local jails, hospitals and drug rehabilitation programs and on television and radio. In addition, the Crouches were also active in high school and college ministries.
In 1951, Crouch founded Christ Memorial Church in the garage of a small group of San Fernando Valley parishioners. The church now claims a membership in the hundreds and has attracted international attention for its exuberant, spirited services, including the gospel singing of multiple Grammy-winner Andrae Crouch and his Grammy-winning sister, Sandra.
Within the Church of God in Christ, Crouch was the founder and presiding prelate of Southern California's Metropolitan Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. In May, 1983, he was consecrated a bishop.
During his lengthy career, Crouch preached in nearly every major American city and in many foreign nations. Despite advancing health problems in recent years, he remained active in the ministry he had founded.
In addition to his son Andrae E. Crouch, of Woodland Hills, and daughter Sandra E. Crouch, of Northridge, Bishop Crouch is survived by another son, Benjamin J. Crouch Jr., of Sylmar, and three grandchildren.
A visitation will be held Monday from noon to 10 p.m. at Christ Memorial Church, 13333 Vaughn St., Pacoima. Funeral services will follow at the church Tuesday at 11 a.m. Louis Henry Ford, presiding bishop of the Churches of God in Christ, will officiate. Rucker's Mortuary in Pacoima is handling the arrangements.
Memorial donations may be made to a scholarship fund named for Benjamin and Catherine Crouch in care of the church.