Remembering The Life & Legacy of Bishop Andrew J. Ford II
This post was originally published on BlackGospel.com
Establishmentarian and Presiding Prelate of the Next Generation Fellowship Ministries, Inc., and Senior Pastor of Ford Memorial Temple, Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On July 19, 2019, Bishop Ford peacefully transitioned from this earthly life and entered into eternal rest.
Bishop Andrew J. Ford, II was born on May 3, 1953 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the late Bishop Andrew J. Ford, Sr., and Elrita Coaxum Ford. He was the eldest of four children from this union. Andrew grew up in West Philly where he matriculated through the Philadelphia Public School System, graduating from Overbrook High School in 1970. Andrew received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Technology from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned his Master’s degree in Theology and Biblical Studies from North Carolina College of Theology in Wilmington, North Carolina, and was currently enrolled in the doctoral program.
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Andrew experienced his spiritual conversion at an early age, through water baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. At an early age he worked in many facets of ministry under his father and mother including playing the bass guitar.
Andrew also played the trumpet in the All City Junior High and High School orchestras under the direction of Dr. Giaimo. He joined the Police Athletic League (PAL) Drum and Bugle Corp., where he played the trumpet/bugle and piccolo trumpet. Andrew, along with his brother Steven played in the drumline and would march in parades during the holidays playing skillfully. He loved to sing and performed with the Olney High Gospel Choir with Bruce Hawes, the Savettes, and several other community choirs. While he enjoyed playing different instruments he eventually focused his passion on his God-given ability to teach and cultivate the choir sound. He was known as a songwriter and master choir director for the Echoes for Christ, Christian Echoes, Pennsylvania State Choir, National Choir of the Highway Churches of Christ, Temple University’s Gospel Choir and University of Pennsylvania’s Gospel Choir. This was just the beginning of a memorable history of his musical accomplishments.
In September of 1973, Andrew was united in holy matrimony to the late Lady Jean Carolyn Ford, (aka First), and to this union, three children were born: Andrew James Ford, III (aka AJ), Syreeta and Shanelle.
Andrew was the co-founder and Executive Producer of Sweet Rain Record Company, where he and his co-founders, Calvin Carr and Steven Ford discovered and produced some of America’s gospel notable artists such as: Pastor Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, The Reverend Ernest Davis, Jr. and Wilmington/Chester Mass Choir featuring Reverend Daryl Coley, The Southeast Inspirational Choir of Houston, Texas introducing Yolanda Adams and many others. During his tenure in the recording industry he was considered “The Renaissance Man” of gospel, because of his unique ability to oversee live choir recordings. His production company was affectionately known as “The Choir Boys.” This combined effort consisted of Steven Ford, Calvin Carr, Buddy Crosby and the late Lionel Darty.
Andrew experienced two unexpected events in 1991 that configured the rest of his life. The first was the sudden passing of his mother, Elrita Coaxum Ford, and the second, his call to the preaching ministry. His initial sermon, “If You’re Out of Business You Need to Take Down Your Sign,”was a bittersweet occasion for Andrew. His mother never witnessed this memorable event. The next two years were a time of intentionally cherishing each moment with his father, because grief struck again when Bishop Andrew James Ford, Sr., passed in 1993.
Minister Ford was ordained and installed as pastor of the Highway Church of Christ of Philadelphia County in September of 1993. With the support of his family Minister Andrew Ford became a visionary for the next generation, called to be change agents in the Body of Christ and throughout the world.
Several fathers of the faith, especially the late Apostle Robert Evans mentored Pastor Ford and help navigate his journey through the pastorate. In memory of the legacy of the late Bishop Andrew James Ford, Sr., and Lady Elrita Ford, the siblings unanimously agreed to officially change the name of the Highway Church of Christ of Philadelphia County to Ford Memorial Temple in 1994.
Divine providence guided Pastor Ford’s destiny into his elevation to the Bishopric and Presiding Prelate of the Next Generation Fellowship Ministries, Inc., a national fellowship of churches, clergy, and church leaders from various ecumenical backgrounds. Bishop became a member of the Joint College of African American Pentecostal Bishops, under the leadership of the Metropolitan Bishop J. Delano Ellis, II, and an Associate member of Philadelphia Black Clergy.
Professionally, Bishop Ford was the Production and Strategic Planner for Owens/Morris Communications, a multi-media marketing company. He managed major production events, concerts and concert tours for corporate clients such as: Wrigley’s, McDonald’s, and Quaker Oats. Bishop Ford worked with Mr. Willie Wilson and the Singsation Television program in Chicago, Illinois. He had a long standing business relationship with his friend and brother, Mr. Hoyett Wilson Owens, Jr. Bishop Ford was the recipient of numerous awards highlighting his faith-based, professional, and community service endeavors. He was the host of a successful local television program and national radio broadcast titled “It’s Our Time.” Bishop Ford served on the advisory board of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. He trained and produced his “How Sweet the Sound” and “TV One/Sony Choir Competition” award-winning church choir – The Anointed Voices of Ford Memorial Temple, whom he affectionately referred to as“My little church choir!” His devotion to the genre of gospel music has made an indelible impact.
Bishop Ford was known as the “People’s Bishop.”He will be remembered for his teaching and preaching from a holistic perspective with precise execution, realizing the severity of meeting every need for God’s people spiritually and naturally. Bishop Ford loved people. Bishop Ford loved music. Bishop Ford loved to dress. Bishop Ford loved his church. More than anything, Bishop Ford loved to praise! One of his favorite quotes is from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
His Grace, Bishop Andrew James Ford, II leaves to cherish his memories, son, Andrew James Ford, III; daughters, Syreeta Lawrence (Timothy), Shanelle Ford; granddaughter, Britney Ford; great-grandson, Drew Smith; two brothers, Dr. Steven Ford (Deborah), Bishop Eugene Porterfield (Travell), two sisters, Overseer Michelle Ford, Deacon Dolores Ford; Ford Memorial Temple; Next Generation Fellowship Ministries; his best friends, Bishop Eric Figueroa, Bishop Darrell Dove, Bishop Richard Pender, Sr.; spiritual son, Bishop Bernard C. Lambert, Jr., a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, spiritual sons and daughters and the Body of Christ.
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