Thursday, June 20, 2024

Multiple Memorial Services Planned for Bishop Carlton Pearson – Drama Ensues!

Bishop Carlton D. Pearson
Bishop Carlton D. Pearson during 2006 Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner at Wyndhamn Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino in New Providence, Bahamas, United States. (Photo by Moses Robinson/WireImage)

*Several churches are reportedly planning services for the late Bishop Carlton Pearson

The megachurch pastor passed away on Nov. 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after battling cancer. He was 70.

Pearson’s 1980s television program on Trinity Broadcasting Network became one of the most-watched shows, and he rose to fame as pastor of the 5,000-member Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Netflix’s 2018 “Come Sunday” biopic explored his life and controversial religious views. 

A Facebook post confirmed Bishop Pearson died peacefully in his sleep.

Before his death, Pearson described his ideal memorial service, including gospel musicians and Bishop Yvette Flunder’s eulogy, Religion News Service reports. 

Bishop Carlton Pearson - Facebook screenshot
Bishop Carlton Pearson – Facebook screenshot

“I want to see the excellence of what we are, what we do under the anointing with class,” he said in the YouTube video recorded from hospice and released by Larry Reid Live, per RNS. “I want to show diversity.”

Flunder will not appear at the church service in Tulsa, nor the two reportedly planned in Atlanta. 

Several Higher Dimensions attendees moved to Transformation Church, now led by Pastor Michael Todd, after Pearson’s theology changed back in the day. A Tulsa service will take place at that church. Several faith leaders told Religion News Service that Pearson’s message of “inclusion” will not be mentioned during the noon service on Friday (Dec. 1).

“That was not what he asked me to do,” said Flunder, leader of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, an organization led by LGBTQ clergy. “And that is to speak out loud about the gospel of inclusion, to speak out loud about an understanding of God that is big enough and broad enough to welcome people,” she continued.

According to Flunder, the organizers of the Transformation Church memorial service disinvited her.

“I could be present but I could not speak,” she told Religion News Service.

“Many people imagined that we would have one big service to celebrate Bishop Pearson’s life,” Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian, said in an interview, per Religion News Service. “However, when the family came together after he died, there was a realization that there were multiple communities and constituencies that he served and that loved him and that there was no way to make it all fit into one service.”

Flunder told RNS she and Reid are planning a celebration of life event at Gas South Arena in Duluth on Dec. 18.

“It’s like he knew that there would be an issue with celebrating him between the two bodies of people that loved him,” Reid said in a YouTube video, per Religion News Service. “And from his bed of transition, he created a plan and now we are carrying it out.”

READ MORE: Megachurch Pastor Carlton Pearson Dead at 70 After Cancer Battle

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