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Pastor Undergoes Prostate Surgery

Health: The Rev. Cecil L. 'Chip' Murray hopes to return to his duties at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church by early next month.


The Rev. Cecil L. "Chip" Murray, pastor of the nationally known First African Methodist Episcopal Church, underwent surgery for prostate cancer Friday.

The three-hour operation on Murray, 73, was completed at 4:30 p.m. at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, said Kerman Maddox, a member of the church's board of trustees.

He said the pastor is expected to take six weeks for a "complete recovery." Murray hopes to return to his full duties in early October, Maddox said.

Dr. Phillip Kurzner, the hospital's chief of urology, said Murray emerged from surgery speaking and talking clearly.

"He's in very good shape. He really went through the surgery completely uneventfully," he said. "Rev. Murray is a very healthy man and we expect him to recover uneventfully."

Kurzner said a pathology report will not be available until next week.

Murray found out six weeks ago that he had cancer of the prostate, Kurzner said. Murray considered his options and decided on surgery, which Kurzner said doctors supported.

The procedure was once considered highly risky. But medical advances in recent years have removed most of the risk.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, underwent the same operation in June 1998. Cancer of the prostate usually is relatively slow growing. In Mahony's case, surgery was put off until four months after the cancer was diagnosed.

"I don't know Rev. Murray personally," Kurzner said. "But the thing that I was struck by was his sense of peace, his calm demeanor. What we were seeing is a man who knows who he is and a man at peace with his decision."

First A.M.E. Church is the oldest black congregation in Los Angeles. The church, a center of political and social action in the city, is frequently a "must" campaign stop during election years by state and national candidates, including those running for president.

Murray has videotaped a message for his congregation that will be played at services at 8 and 10 a.m. and noon Sunday. Church officials said the public is invited.

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