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Bishop Andrew James Ford II, senior pastor of Ford Memorial Temple, Inc., died on Friday, July 19, 2019. He was 66.
He was born on May 3, 1953 in Philadelphia to the late Bishop Andrew J. Ford Sr. and Elrita Coaxum Ford. He was the eldest of four children from there union.
He grew up in West Philly where he matriculated through the Philadelphia public school system, graduating from Overbrook High School in 1970.
He received a bachelor’s degree in computer technology from Temple University in Philadelphia, his master’s degree in theology and Biblical studies from North Carolina College of Theology in Wilmington, North Carolina and was enrolled in the doctoral program.
Ford experienced his spiritual conversion at an early age. He worked in many facets of ministry under his father and mother including playing the bass guitar. Ford also played the trumpet in the All City Junior High and High School orchestras. He joined the Police Athletic League (PAL) Drum and Bugle Corp., where he played the trumpet/bugle and piccolo trumpet. He and his brother, Steven played in the drumline and would march in parades during the holidays.
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 cultivating 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.
In September of 1973, he married the late Lady Jean Carolyn Ford and three children were born to their union.
Ford 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 Rev. Ernest Davis Jr. and Wilmington/Chester Mass Choir featuring Rev. Daryl Coley and The Southeast Inspirational Choir of Houston, Texas.
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.
Ford experienced two unexpected events in 1991 that configured the rest of his life. The first was the sudden passing of his mother, 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 Ford. 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 J. Ford Sr., passed in 1993.
Ford was ordained and installed as pastor of the Highway Church of Christ of Philadelphia County in September of 1993.
Several fathers of the faith, especially the late Apostle Robert Evans mentored Ford and helped 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.
Ford became bishop and presiding prelate of the Next Generation Fellowship Ministries, Inc., a national fellowship of churches, clergy and church leaders from various ecumenical backgrounds.
He 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 the Philadelphia Black Clergy.
Professionally, 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.
Ford worked with Willie Wilson and the Singsation television program in Chicago, Illinois. He had a long standing business relationship with his friend, Hoyett W. Owens Jr.
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.”
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.
He 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,” his family said in a tribute.
He is survived by: his son, Andrew J. Ford III; daughters, Syreeta Lawrence (Timothy) and Shanelle Ford; granddaughter, Britney Ford; great-grandson, Drew Smith; brothers, Dr. Steven Ford (Deborah) and Bishop Eugene Porterfield (Travell); sisters, Overseer Michelle Ford and Deacon Dolores Ford; best friends, Bishop Eric Figueroa, Bishop Darrell Dove, Bishop Richard Pender Sr. and Bishop David Evans and other relatives and friends.
He will lie in state on Aug. 2. The first viewing will be held Aug. 2 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Ford Memorial Temple, 4031 Germantown Ave.
The second viewing will be held Aug. 3 at 8 a.m. at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 2001 W. Lehigh Ave. Services will follow at 10 a.m.