Tanya Sadagopan

by | Jun 2, 2022

This weekend Los Angeles lost a great leader in the passing of the Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, Pastor of Los Angeles’ oldest Black congregation First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME). We were honored to call him our dear friend, colleague, and Advisor to The Guibord Center.

In 2012, the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord invited Rev. Murray to discuss his autobiography, Twice Tested by Fire: A Memoir of Faith and Service, his memoir about the inspiration and challenges that shaped his ministry. 

“I am here, on this stage, to bear witness that the Lord will make a path somehow,” said Rev. Murray during the interview, adding that “you can’t make a change from the outside. If you are going to make a difference, you have to get on the inside.”

Getting on the inside is exactly what Rev. Murray did as he brought the living presence of Jesus to a city in shambles. Widely credited with helping to heal a fractured metropolis in the aftermath of the 1992 LA Uprising, he preached the words we needed to hear, and he did the work of addressing injustice in the neighborhoods surrounding the church and beyond.

Rev. Murray passionately advocated for those who do not have a voice, working tirelessly to help the Black community take on “The Four Ps” of Poverty: Poverty of Pocket, Poverty of Family, Poverty of Education, and Poverty of Imaging.

Immediately after the uprising, Rev. Murray led FAME in creating a prison ministry, which partnered with USC, UCLA, Temple Isaiah and others to provide free legal counseling and create innovative outreach programs. He also created and fundraised for 13 housing projects that provided homes to more than 2,000 people, including individuals with physical disabilities, seniors, people living with HIV/AIDS, and those struggling to make ends meet. 

Rev. Murray also oversaw the creation of FAME Renaissance, a nonprofit focused on economic development programs, to support businesses from the ground up, raising $400 million for business incubation, loans, and mentoring. Among his many other contributions were medical outreach programs to Africa, youth programs, and HIV/AIDS programs at a time when basic compassion, let alone support, for those suffering was rare. 

Rev. Murray’s friendship, guidance, and faithful leadership will be sorely missed. He was a stalwart of the community, and we hope that we may all live on in how he treated and cared for one another. We give thanks for his extraordinary life.

Watch the Rev. Dr. Guibord’s interview with Rev. Murray here: https://theguibordcenter.org/cecil-murray-twice-tested-by-fire/