Price, Frederick K. C. 1932–
Frederick K. C. Price 1932–
Founded Crenshaw Christian Center
Expanded Mission of His Congregation
Launched Controversial Series on Racism
Dr. Frederick K. C. Price spent years searching for his mission in life. As he struggled to define himself, he served as a pastor in four different Christian denominations. But after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1970, he founded the Crenshaw Christian Center, and now is pastor to more than 18,000 parishioners and 33 million households nationwide.
Despite his current following, Frederick Price’s life has not always been consecrated to God. Dr. Price was born on January 3, 1932 in Santa Monica, CA, the eldest son of Winifred and Fred Price, who owned a janitorial service in West Los Angeles. He attended McKinley Elementary School in Santa Monica, Foshay Junior High, Manual Art and Dorsey High Schools in Los Angeles, and then completed two years of schooling at Los Angeles City College. His childhood was often troubled, marred especially by his father’s struggle with alcoholism. In this wake, Price was left with feelings of inferiority and a number of phobias.
While at Dorsey High, Price met Betty Ruth Scott, and this relationship would change his life forever. Not only did Price eventually marry Betty, but her devout Baptist faith made a great impact on him. When they first met, Price was not a religious man. He had not been reared in the church, and his parents, both Jehovah’s Witnesses, no longer practiced their religion and in fact were outspoken against organized religion in general. Determined to impress Betty and her family, though, Price regularly attended church during their courtship. Once they were married, however, Price returned to the baseball diamond on Sundays rather than continuing to accompany Betty to church.
As retold in his biography, a group of Los Angeles-area churches sponsored a week of old-fashioned tent revivals shortly after the Prices were married, and Fred became jealous as Betty religiously attended every service. When he went to discover what intrigued Betty, he himself was born again. Shortly thereafter, the Prices joined a local Baptist congregation. In that church, Price recalled, he received the “call to minister. I heard a voice saying, ‘You are going to preach my Gospel.’ It was like a bomb going off. I believe it was the voice of Jesus Christ, but at that time, I did not know what it was.”
Defined His Christian Faith
For the next 17 years Price sought to define himself as
At a Glance…
Born Frederick K.C. Price January 3, 1932 in Santa Monica, CA; father Fred and mother Winifred, one brother, one sister. Married Dr. Betty Ruth Scott Price in March 1953; five children: Angela Evans, Cheryl Crabbe, Stephanie Buchanan, Frederick Price, Frederick III (deceased). Education: Los Angeles City College; BA, Biblical Studies, Friends International Christian University, Merced, CA, 1978; Master of Divinity, Friends International Christian University, Merced, CA, 1982; Doctor of Ministry, Friends International Christian University, Merced, CA, 1988; Ph.D., Religious Studies, Friends International Christian University, Merced, CA, 1992.
Career: Paper cutter; assistant pastor in a Baptist church 1955-57; pastor in an African Methodist Episcopal church 1957-59; pastor in a Presbyterian church; pastor for the Christian and Missionary Alliance, West Washington Community Church, 1965; founder, pastor, Crenshaw Christian Center, 1973-.
Member: Founder, Fellowship of Inner-City Word of Faith Ministries.
Selected awards: Honorarydiploma, Rhema Bible Training Center, Tulsa, 1976; honorary Doctorate of Divinity, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, 1982; honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Friends International Christian University, Merced, CA, 1992; Award of Merit, “Two Thousand Notable Americans;” The Marquis Who’s Who Publication Awards, Who’s Who in Religion, 2nd and 22nd editions; State of California Senate Rules Committee commendation; City of Atlanta, Office of the Mayor commendation; City of LA, Mayor’s Certificate of Appreciation; City of New Orleans, Honorary Citizen award; Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition; Certificate of Recognition, City of Kenner, LA; State of LA, Honorary Council member of the City of Baton Rouge; Horatio Alger award, 1998; Kelly Miller Smith Interfaith Award, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1998.
Addresses: Crenshaw Christian Center, 7901 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90044.
a Christian. While concurrently working as a paper cutter, he served, mostly part-time, as an assistant pastor in a Baptist church from 1955 to 1957, then pastored an African Methodist Episcopal church in Val Verde, Californiafrom 1957 to 1959. From there he served in a Presbyterian church and then joined the Christian and Missionary Alliance at West Washington Community Church in 1965. Such wanderings clearly indicated that Price was dissatisfied with his personal spiritual development. His faith, he believed, lacked positive results in his life and ministry. He continued to search because “I was not witnessing…”—greater works’ in my own ministry, nor in the ministry of others that I knew, with two exceptions-Kathryn Kuhlman and Oral Roberts.” Further contributing to his sense of struggle was the tragic loss in 1962 of his then eight-year-old son, Frederick III, who was killed by a car while coming home from school.
Such tragedy in his life, however, did not deter Price’s personal quest. Rather, he continued his studies, and on February 28, 1970 he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of “speaking in tongues,” an event he considered the starting point in his own ministry. Shortly thereafter he came into contact with the Bible-teaching ministry of Kenneth E. Hagin. “He grew into the reality of God’s Word” and began to teach the Bible-deliverance message based on neo-Pentecostal teachings known for talking in tongues, healing, and prosperity teachings.
Founded Crenshaw Christian Center
As he and Betty began to take “the first steps to walk by faith,” Price’s following grew “in the operation of faith” and in membership. Having begun with only nine members, five of whom were part of his family, his congregation quickly outgrew its facilities. As his ministry’s own literature explained, Price then “followed through with a plan the Lord had shared with him about establishing a new church,” independent of denominational affiliations. “There, the Holy Spirit could operate as He chose,… and the Word of God could be taught to His people uncompromisingly.” Thus, on November 26, 1973, Price moved with about 300 parishioners from West Washington to establish the Crenshaw Christian Center in Inglewood, California. Price’s membership continued to spiral, and in 1977 the church was forced to hold two services, with yet another service added in 1982, because the 1,400-seat sanctuary was always filled to capacity.
Price’s reach, moreover, did not stop at the door to Crenshaw. He initially broadcasted a radio show several times weekly and then extended the missionary outreach arm of Crenshaw Christian Center, Ever Increasing Faith, by televising his faith message locally. These broadcasts were later expanded to five major U.S. cities in an effort to reach a greater number of African Americans. Those touched by Price’s wisdom continued to multiply, and, by the early 1980s, the church once again needed larger facilities. In 1981 the congregation purchased the 32-acre former campus of Pepperdine University. The new sanctuary, known as the Faith-Dome, was completed in 1989 and dedicated on January 21, 1990.
Price was inspired to build the massive, geodesic, aluminum FaithDome, which has a 10,146-seat capacity, after visiting a huge, domed building that housed Howard Hughes’ airplane. Designed theater-style with sky-blue seats, matching carpeting, and no pillars or columns, Price envisioned the structure as the ideal way to seat everybody in his urban ministry at one time under one roof without a balcony. After all, he claimed in a statement heralding the opening of the FaithDome, “My desire is to reach as many people as possible with the message of faith and power, which can be theirs through the Word of God.” Despite its impressive capacity, Price currently restricts usage of the facility to one Sunday service, conventions, and crusades.
Concurrent with the expansion of his ministry, Price returned to school to complete his formal religious training, having previously been ordained by his fellow ministers. In 1978 he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, in 1988 he completed a Doctor of Ministry degree, and in 1992 he finished his doctorate in Religious Studies, all at the Friends International Christian University in Merced, California.
Expanded Mission of His Congregation
Under Price’s guidance and leadership, the Crenshaw Christian Center has expanded far beyond Sunday services, and its current congregation numbers more than 18,000 believers. In addition, its television, radio, and tape ministry, Ever-Increasing Faith, now airs on 116 television and 42 radio stations and reaches more than 33 million households in 23 markets throughout the United States, the Bahamas, Nigeria, West Indies, U.S. Virgin Islands, England, and Canada. Moreover, the Center itself employs more than 300 people. Exemplifying the breadth of Price’s offerings, the grounds of the center house not only the sanctuary but also a ministry training institute for those who have a call to full-time ministry; a correspondence school program, a home Bible study program for those who wish to develop their knowledge of God’s Word but cannot participate in a traditional study program; the Frederick K.C. Price III schools to assist parents in the educational and spiritual growth of their children in preschool through high school; an extended day-care center; a bookstore; a cafeteria; an alcohol and drug-abuse program; and 24-hour prayer service. The Center also boasts of sixteen “ministries of helps” involving approximately 2,500 volunteers who assist Dr. Price and his staff of nine ministers in serving the congregation, visitors, and an outreach jail ministry.
Clearly defining his congregation as one which extends far beyond the walls of Crenshaw, Price has also assumed a prominent role in the surrounding community. Not only is the Center currently refurbishing its gymnasium into a state-of-the-art youth activities center, which will be open to youths in the neighborhood as well as to those in the congregation, but he is also active in the Vermont Village empowerment program. Crenshaw’s immediate environs used to be profitable, and Price has joined energies with the City of Los Angeles and other local area corporations and foundations to restore it to its former luster. Towards this end Price has sponsored seminars on such topics as economic development, economic rights, job training, and home ownership with the ultimate goal of empowering African Americans to build businesses of their own.
Driven to expand his teachings further into urban areas, Price founded the Fellowship of Inner-City Word of Faith Ministries (FICWFM) in 1990 to foster and spread the faith message among independent ministries. The non-denominational Fellowship meets annually throughout the nation to exchange and share ideas and methods to apply the “Word of Faith” within inner-city congregations. In this way, Price fulfilled another part of his personal vision: to help inner-city ministries overcome the challenges they encounter in their congregations and in their daily work.
Given the size of his following, Price obviously has found a message which rings true with many people. In a world which now offers so many faith options, Price’s unique, analogy-filled method of educating parishioners about the Bible is certainly one draw of the Center. As he explained in an interview with Naomi Bradley of Turning Point, “I overcame a low self esteem. I overcame an inferiority complex syndrome that I lived with for years. I overcame fear. I overcame sickness and disease in my own personal life. I overcame poverty because I struggled … and I took the Word of God and I applied the principles that were there that at least the majority of people, ministers, were not bringing forth to the people. I built this ministry on it.” As he clarified in an interview with Susan Champlin of People Weekly, his “overriding concern is faith as conveyed by the Holy Spirit … When faith is added to the power of God, there is an explosion of healing or whatever you want.”
Price further distinguished himself by referring to his work as “teaching, not preaching.” “Preaching,” he explained to Bradley, “is more inspirational, where teaching is more informational.… and that’s my calling.” While this well-dressed man, whom Rhonda Graham of Emerge described as “a bundle of kinetic energy,” strolls throughout the pews, interacting with his parishioners, his congregation sits with pens and Bibles on their laps as if they were in class instead of attending church. He has also authored more than 30 books on faith healing, prosperity, and the Holy Spirit and has sold more than two million books since 1976.
Launched Controversial Series on Racism
Price’s message has recently taken a more controversial turn: he has begun to combat what he sees as extreme racism within the church itself. Price launched a series of sermons on racism in October of 1997 that have been broadcast nationally as part of his “Race, Religion and Racism” series. He used as evidence that racism still existed in the church, comments regarding interracial dating and marriage made by Pentecostal Reverend Kenneth Hagin, Jr., the son of his own mentor. “God began to deal with me about teaching about racism in about 1990,” he told Bradley, and, as he explained to Graham, he “received this assignment from [Him].” In the end Price spent three years in intense study preparing 300 pages of notes before launching the series, and every point is extensively documented and meticulously referenced.
According to Price,” Religion has been the most flagrant perpetrator of racism in the world.” During the course of his teachings, Price laid most, if not all, of society’s ills on the doorsteps of the Church. Because the Church is “failing to be what it ought to be in the world,… our nation is going down the tubes… How can the world get together when the Church is divided?” He further continued, “Why should the world listen to us when we claim to have the revelation of God, we claim to be in earshot of God, we claim to be listening to the Spirit of God, and we’re just as racist as we can be?” As possessors of God’s Word, Price repeatedly stated, the church should not be racist for “God is not and never has been racist or racially prejudiced.”
Price is quick to point out that the issue of racism does not lie with the Bible, but rather with those who have interpreted it. Racism, he declared, has been promulgated by the white community, and his goal is to help African Americans realize that they are important to God, that they are in the Bible.” It’s challenging the church… but primarily in America the white church to realize the enormity of the crime that they have committed against God really in telling these lies, because they are the ones who started it.”
What does Price expect of the white church? Certainly more than apologies. “They need to do some reparations,” he told Bradley, “they need to fix the inequities, they need to level out the playing field and they need to change the attitudes because their attitudes are what continue to perpetuate the racism in this country and they’re going to have to change their attitude more than just say I’m sorry.”
As might be expected, the repercussions from Price’s teachings have been loud. Television and radio stations which once carried his message have cancelled his show. Approximately one half of the 24 African American ministers on the executive board of the FICWFM have resigned. And yet, despite the controversy, Price has no plans to end the series prematurely. By the end of 1998, in fact, he had only presented one-third of his research. “The truth,” he told Graham, “is not always easy to swallow initially. So if you have to ruffle a few feathers or rock a few boats, then I think it’s worth it once we arrive there.” Ultimately, he said, “I am believing this is God speaking to the church. I am believing that it’s going to change attitudes and certainly the fallout is going to affect society in general. But the message is for the church to get its act together.”
Amongst church leaders, though, the series has also received positive press. In April of 1998, for example, he received the Horatio Alger Award, which is given to “outstanding Americans who exemplify inspirational success, triumph over adversity, and an uncommon commitment to helping others.” In July of 1998, he was also honored with the Kelly Miller Smith Interfaith Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Presented by Martin Luther King III, the award recognizes outstanding clergy who have made the most significant contribution through religious expression affecting the nation and the world.
Embedded as he remains in his racism series, Price has not yet revealed his next focus. Rather, he informs his congregants, when the time is right the Lord will give him his next assignment. In the meantime, Price’s vision for his ministry has not wavered: to continue to touch more lives, to spread the Word of God to more people so that they can live more victorious lives.
The Way, The Walk, and the Warfare of the Believer (Study of the Book ofEphesians), Faith One Publishing.
Testing the Spirits, Faith One Publishing.
The Chastening of the Lord, Faith One Publishing.
Beware! The Lies of Satan, Faith One Publishing.
Walking in God’s Word… Through His Promises, Faith One Publishing.
Identified with Christ, Faith One Publishing.
Three Keys to Positive Confession, Faith One Publishing.
The Victorious… Overcoming Life (Study of the Book of Colossians), Faith One Publishing.
The Faithfulness of God, Faith One Publishing.
The Promised Land (A New Era for the Body of Christ), Faith One Publishing.
Name It and Claim It! The Power of Positive Confession, Faith One Publishing.
How Faith Works, Faith One Publishing.
Is Healing for All?, Faith One Publishing.
The Christian Family, Faith One Publishing.
The Holy Spirit-Helper We All Need, Faith One Publishing.
The Holy Spirit-The Missing Ingredient, Faith One Publishing.
High Finance, Faith One Publishing.
Living in the Realm of the Spirit, Faith One Publishing.
Concerning Them Which Have Fallen Asleep, Faith One Publishing.
Faith, Foolishness, or Presumption?, Faith One Publishing.
Homosexuality-State of Birth or State of Mind?, Faith One Publishing.
A New Law for a New People, Faith One Publishing.
How To Obtain Strong Faith, Faith One Publishing.
Five Little Foxes of Faith, Faith One Publishing.
Practical Suggestions for Successful Ministry, Faith One Publishing.
Building on a Firm Foundation, Faith One Publishing.
Dr. Price’s Golden Nuggets, Faith One Publishing.
Living in Hostile Territory, Faith One Publishing.
Do I Have a Say In When I Die?, Faith One Publishing.
Charisma, April 1998, pp. 16-17, 122.
Ebony, December 1989, pp. 40-43.
Emerge, January 1999, pp. 44-51.
Jet, October 16, 1989, pp. 32-33.
Los Angeles Times, citation unknown.
People Weekly, October 10, 1983, pp. 48-49.
Turning Point, August/September/October 1998, pp. 22-27.
Crenshaw Christian Center Public Relations Materials. WWW.Faithdome.com Web Site
—Lisa S. Weitzman
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