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Longtime Los Angeles minister, author, scholar Calvin H. Bowers dies at 82


Calvin H. Bowers, author, scholar, church historian and longtime minister for the  Figueroa Church of Christ  in Los Angeles, died Aug. 8 at Keck Hospital of USC after a long illness. He was 82.

A memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15, at the Figueroa church, 455 W. 57th St., Los Angeles, CA 90037. The funeral is 11 a.m. Aug. 16. at the church.

Bowers served for 57 years as a minister for the Figueroa church. The congregation, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2013, hosted a retirement celebration for the minister March 8. Darrell Holt succeeded Bowers as the church’s pulpit minister.

Bowers influenced multiple generations of ministers among Churches of Christ, including Fate Hagood, minister for the Metropolitan Church of Christ in Carson, Calif.

He was “the first minister who challenged me to write a sermon,” Hagood said. “He had the sharp mind of a theological scholar and the quick wit of a rhetorician and apologist. He was indeed special. His impact on our brotherhood is incalculable and cannot be minimized. I will miss him.”

A banner advertising the Figueroa Church of Christ’s retirement celebration for Calvin Bowers (VIA FACEBOOK)

Born in Selmer, Tenn., he was the eighth of Ollie Bowers’ nine children. While attending Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif,  Calvin Bowers was hired by the Figueroa church as minister of education and later was named associate minister. 

From 1994 to 2010, he served as the successor to R.N. Hogan in the pulpit of the historic congregation. He continued his education at Pepperdine, earning two master’s degrees before completing a doctorate in 1981 at the University of Southern California.

On a two-year leave from Figueroa, he served as academic dean of Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, from 1967 to 1969. He returned to Pepperdine and served as dean of ethnic and urban studies from 1969 to 1976. He served as director of equal opportunity and professor of communication and religion from 1976 to 2004. He also served as special assistant to the president of Pepperdine.

He is the author of “Realizing the California Dream, a history of African American churches in Los Angeles from 1902 to 2000.”


In a 2013 Dialogue with Christian Chronicle, President and CEO Lynn McMillon, Calvin Bowers spoke about the need to establish meaningful connections among predominantly white and predominantly black Churches of Christ.

First, there must be a desire to come together, talk and just get to know each other. This will help to reduce stereotypes that have existed for years. 
Then, we need to find ways to plan and work together as true brothers and sisters in Christ. If this is genuinely done, we will learn to trust each other and do great works together. 
The motive for all such action must be love for God and fellow man. Shallow, occasional gestures do little good in the long run. Such efforts should be pursued with mutual respect.

Read the full interview.


Filed under: Breaking News National News Extras Obituaries

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