Interviews

Hezekiah Walker

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Hezekiah Walker Hezekiah Walker is hardly the image of a typical church pastor overseeing a thriving church ministry in America’s largest city.

For one, he’s young and hip…tapered sideburns, designer gear and entourage in full force. No signs of gray hair or arthritis at 36 years old, either.

Two, he’s timid…perhaps too timid for a personality with such influence and following in the Gospel arena where others are jostling for their 15 minutes of fame.

Now behind a pulpit, Pastor Walker will preach the roof off the Love Fellowship Tabernacle Church (I’ve seen it.), but in a crowd full of his peers, Hez (his alter ego) appears reserved and favors hugging the four walls rather than basking in the spotlight.

Regardless, as a result of being appointed by members of the Generation-J crowd as the unofficial Godfather of holy hip-hop music, Pastor Hezekiah Walker has emerged as an unlikely MTV celebrity with young Christian fans the world over. But, it’s understandable.

His cutting-edge church ministry on Liberty ave. in Brooklyn, New York & Bensalem, Pennsylvania (for the last 2 years) and his unique relationship with ‘playas’ in the music industry has elevated Hezekiah Walker’s status into another stratosphere usually reserved for personalities mostly seen on BET Tonight.

And, with no disrespect to any of New York’s finest Gospel choirs, Hezekiah Walker leads the city’s (perhaps the nation’s) most popular gospel choir – LFCC (Love Fellowship Crusade Choir) & it’s born-again-sister, LFTCC (Love Fellowship Tabernacle Church Choir).

Hezekiah Walker and Sean Combs And now, on the eve of his latest recording effort (July 10th) – Thank You (Bad Boy) – which brings Pastor Walker and his best-known church member, Sean “P.D.” Combs, into studio together, Hez is shedding his pastoral robe and putting on the fly gear and kicks as he gets ready to pander his progressive music ministry to a whole other jurisdiction on the other side of town.

Calling on a heavy lineup of friends that include banner names like Fred Hammond & Joe, John P. Kee & Brian McKnight, Mary Mary & Brandy, Thank You is sure to send ripples throughout the street parks, church isles, and music boardrooms of America.

We caught up with New York’s second Grammy Award-winning Pastor (don’t forget Rev. Run – Run/DMC) at his church in Brooklyn to talk about recording, church life and anything else we could think of. Hope you enjoy.

Christopher Heron: The first question I want to ask is about your church ministry. I've had the opportunity to visit your church and I loved the ambiance, I loved the spirit of your church. Is it rewarding to you now as a pastor, at this point in your life, to see your church ministry prosper the way it has in a very short span of time?

Hezekiah Walker Hezekiah Walker: I'm terribly just blessed by God. I just thank him for the souls we have captured and who are transforming their lives to glorify Him.

We started this ministry goin' on 7 years ago. When we first started, we only had a few members, about 15.

We were a storefront church so God had it; it was a community in need of this gospel for young people, drug addicts, prostitutes out in the streets, just ministering to them and their whole soul.

After being in that storefront for about 2 years, we became overwhelmed with souls and had to move to a different facility. The same section in Brooklyn, now we over 1500 souls.

We're about to go into big construction in a year or two, expanding the building to accommodate the people of God.

CH: That's an awesome testimony. Now, at what point in your life did you have a true sense, a true calling towards church ministry, particularly for Brooklyn?

HW: I can say when I first started the choir I didn't know how to pastor. I'd say while I was on the road with the choir God had put that in my spirit to pastor. But I ran from the call then I was caught and made the decision to be a pastor about 1993.

CH: Over the years, your ministry has taken on more status as a place of worship for a number of celebrities and hordes of young people from across the Tri-State area. How do you account for this attraction for "Hez's" church?

HW: I don't account for anything; that's how God has had it happen. The secular world is attracted to the ministry. They hear about my church and they come to visit to see.

I keep my message very basic, very real and I don't water it down. They don't ask celebrities for autographs; people just come for the Word, they get the Word, we praise the Lord and everybody goes home.

People (celebrities) are here for the ministry; they are here for the Word. I believe they're here to get a word, to get a refreshing. A place they're at ease, at peace, where they can come in and won't be mobbed by people. Hopefully it will be a life changing experience.

Hezekiah with Fellowship Singers CH: To further perpetuate your celebrity status, the word is out now on your upcoming album with Bad Boy Records called Thank You and your collaboration with Sean P.D. Combs. Can you speak about it?

HW: This is a Sean Combs project we've actually been working on for a few years now. We have a couple of people in the gospel community who are on the CD as well as those from the Bad Boy label.

Sean Combs wanted to give back to the community and give back to God for the blessings he has bestowed upon his life and for everything God has done for him. He really loves God and sometimes you just don't know how to show it.

The best way for him is to put out a gospel album. He approached me about it and we talked and I decided to help him out.

CH: Will this project reflect Hez's sound, the Sean Combs sound or a reflection of all the talents?

HW: The talents on the project include John P Kee, Fred Hammond, Mary Mary, we have Kim Burrell; we have a numerous people from the gospel industry as well as people like Brandy, Brian McKnight and Joe. It's a well-rounded group of artists - everybody is on this project.

CH: As a young man, initially being one of the pioneers of the contemporary gospel sound certainly in the New York area, who did you grow up appreciating in terms of gospel choirs or gospel artists?

HW: I'd say there was no particular choir I was in to but I listened to a lot of music from Walter Hawkins, Shirley Caesar, and theClark Sisters.

CH: What is your vision with regards to your music ministry? Much has been written about your production and publishing deals in recent years. It appears as though your outlook is very broad.

HW: I’d like to see my ministry expand to a broader market and appeal to a more secularized audience. It’s about capturing more people for His kingdom. God’s people already have a firm understanding of his Word.

Our purpose is to provide a message to those who are lost. That’s why we’ve been placed at this particular time and place…to deliver a word to the lost. But one thing is for sure; my style will never change.

For more information on Hezekiah Walker and his church and music ministries, visit www.lovefellowship.net.



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