Longtime Pastor Of First AME Church Cecil Murray Dead At 94

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Mariane Angela Contributor
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Rev. Dr. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, the pastor who led the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles for 27 years, passed away Friday at the age of 94, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Murray’s son, Drew Murray, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Murray passed away due to natural causes at his residence in the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood of L.A. County. Throughout his ministerial tenure, Murray significantly expanded the congregation of the church from 250 to over 18,000 members. The church gained prominence as a central venue for political figures, welcoming visits from former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, along with actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Variety stated.

“He was a man who gave God his all,” Drew told the Los Angeles Times. “He was a devoted husband, and a loving and caring father.”

Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has conveyed her condolences, portraying Murray as a towering figure committed to service.

“Today we lost a giant. Reverend Dr. Cecil Murray dedicated his life to service, community, and putting God first in all things,” Bass wrote on X. “I had the absolute honor of working with him, worshiping with him, and seeking his counsel. My heart is with the First AME congregation and community today as we reflect on a legacy that changed this city forever.” (RELATED: Pastor Discovers Trailer Of Bibles ‘Intentionally Set On Fire’ Easter Sunday)

Apart from his religious leadership, Murray was a prominent civil rights advocate and community organizer, Variety reported. He particularly gained national attention during the 1992 L.A. riots. Addressing his congregation amidst the turmoil, Murray pointed out the need for social change.

“We are not proud that we set those fires, but we’d like to make a distinction to America this morning about the difference between setting a fire and starting a fire,” Murray told his congregation on May 3, 1992, according to Variety. “We set some of those fires, but we didn’t start any of those fires. Those fires were started when some men of influence decided that this nation can indeed exist half slave and half free. Those fires were started when some men poured gasoline on the Constitution of the United States of America.”