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L.A. Names Street After Longtime AME Pastor

August 19, 2004|Jessica Garrison | Times Staff Writer

He has been head pastor at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church for 27 years, helping transform his Mid-City church into a center for social activism.

Recognizing that service, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to name a portion of West 25th Street near the church Dr. Cecil L. "Chip" Murray Circle, after the 74-year-old pastor who is set to retire this fall.

"The congregants will be pleasantly surprised," said the Rev. Leonard Jackson. "It is an honor that is worthy of the work he has done."

When Murray arrived at the church in 1977 from Seattle, he found a congregation of about 300 older members. Over the years, it has grown to thousands of members, with three services each Sunday. The church served as a beacon during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. It has also started housing programs and a school.

Murray has welcomed a who's who of national and international political and entertainment figures, including former President Clinton, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Just last Sunday, Michael Jackson and mayoral candidate state Sen. Richard Alarcon (D-Sun Valley) turned up. They were welcomed warmly, but church officials devoted more time to baptizing babies.

Councilman Bernard C. Parks said that he planned a bigger celebration in September, when Murray retires.

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