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By Nathan Aaseng

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1953– ) Christian Cultural Center pastor Alphonso R. Bernard is the founder and pastor of the largest church in New York City and an influ- ential voice in the black conservative religious movement. Bernard was born in 1953 in Panama. His mother immigrated with him to Brooklyn, New York, four years later, and settled there. The family attended Roman Catholic services at first but eventually was attracted to various Protestant churches, including Methodist and Lutheran congregations, by youth activities, such as sponsored baseball teams.

In November 1891, he was called to St. James Church in Baltimore, which was in serious decline with only 69 members, hopelessly in debt, and operating out of rented facilities. Bragg led the church to an astounding recovery. Within a few years, St. James was not only self-supporting but 26 Broughton, Virginia E. Walker able to build a new sanctuary. He served that congregation for the remainder of his career. Among his community accomplishments were starting the Maryland Home for Friendless Children in 1899, and leading the fight for black teachers in Baltimore’s Negro Schools.

Secure and happy in her teaching career, Broughton declined. But the death of her mother and feelings of mortality brought on by her own severe illness changed her priorities. When Broughton recovered her health, she accepted the challenge and worked full time, traveling through Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. A woman of strong views who tended to consider all who disagreed with her as in league with the devil, she threw herself into the work so vigorously that she neglected her family.

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