Hollywood actor Denzel Washington honoured his pastor of 40 years at a recent 'Blessing of the Elders' ceremony at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
Pastor A.R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center in New York City attended the event on June 23, 2022. Washington and his wife Pauletta honoured Bernard for his contribution to the nation and Americans' spiritual health, among others being honoured at the event.
"It was extra special to have Denzel and Pauletta Washington present my award," Bernard told The Christian Post.
Bernard's congregation consists of 40,000 people. The pastor has also served as an adviser to mayors and presidents.
Another pastor that shaped Washington's faith was Bishop Charles E. Blake of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ.
"It’s been an amazing 40-year journey from Bishop Blake’s church, where I first was filled with the Holy Spirit, to tonight," says Washington, according to Religion News Service. "He's a man of God with a mind of God."
Other pastors and ministry leaders were honoured during the ceremony, including Bishop Charles E. Blake; Pastor Shirley Caesar of Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church in Raleigh, North Carolina; Pastor Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas; Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas; Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and evangelical civil rights leader John Perkins.
"It has been a blessing for all of us to be students of Pastor A.R. Bernard," says Washington. "It’s been a blessing for me, personally, to have someone that I can talk to, ask questions."
The event was co-hosted by Erica Campbell and Bebe Winans. Other attendees included Christian rapper Lecrae as well as gospel artists The Clark Sisters, Fred Hammond, and Wintley Phipps.
"Christianity gave blacks hope in the midst of a hopeless situation, and we’re not done yet. I believe the 21st century will see the black church lead the way to hope and healing in a deeply divided nation," says Bernard.
Blessing of the Elders is guided by a steering committee. Their vision statement says, "We seek to honour Black pastors across the United States who have been committed to their call of preaching the Gospel and caring for the souls of humankind. We acknowledge and appreciate their exceptional contribution as vitally important to the development of America’s biblical values."