Brooklyn's "hip-hop pastor" will become a hip-hop bishop this weekend when thousands gather from around the country for the closing services of the 89th International Holy Convocation for the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc.
During the ceremony on Sunday at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Chief Apostle Bishop William L. Bonner will announce the elevation of Pastor Hezekiah Walker into the position of bishop in recognition of his work among young people and for starting new churches – five in the United States, and one in South Africa.
Presiding Prelate Kenneth Moales, who serves as the bishop over Walker's churches, has reportedly given his blessing to the consecration.
"This is a very great honor," Walker, 45, founder of the Love Fellowship Tabernacle in East New York, told the NY Daily News.
"This honor means so much to me but also to my churches. Words cannot express how I feel to receive this elevation from Bishop William L. Bonner," he added in a separate statement.
"Truly this is blessing from God."
In addition to being pastor of his prominent Brooklyn, N.Y., megachurch, Walker is also a Grammy Award-winning gospel music artist who has released several albums on Benson Records and Verity Records as Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir. But it's not for this reason why Walker is sometimes affectionately referred to as "the hip-hop pastor."
He picked up his nickname due to the number of high-profile secular hip-hop recording artists who've attended his church, such as Foxy Brown and Sean "Diddy" Combs.
In his comments to the Daily News, Chief Apostle Bishop Bonner said he had recently heard Walker preach and was "impressed with the appeal Pastor Walker had in drawing a younger generation into the kingdom of God."
"Pastor Walker is a son of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ," said Bonner.
As a bishop, Walker will remain committed to the work he started in East New York in 1994.
Construction of a new church will soon begin and upon completion will be bordered by two shelters for the homeless.
The new facility will allow the church to expand its ministries, which now include feeding and clothing programs and numerous youth activities.
"We are staying right in East New York where our church is really needed, not just to preach and sing," Walker said, according to the Daily News, "but to care for the people."
Walker's consecration comes after 14 years of pastoring one of the fastest growing churches in the New York City area and in Ben Salem, Pa., and having fellowship churches in Long Island, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and recently a Love Fellowship Tabernacle "The Kingdom Church" in Capetown, South Africa.
Walker is also an afternoon host on WLIB, the city's only all-gospel station, and has – together with his choir – been nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Best Gospel Artist, Traditional. The group has twice won Grammy Awards for Best Gospel Album by Choir or Chorus.