*On Tuesday, March 8, 2011 many of those who knew Pastor Billy Ingram wrote the word “shalom” (which means peace) accompanied by “R.I.P” on his Facebook wall. Dr. Billy G. Ingram — a dignified man, who wore many hats well including pastor, activist, author, historian, Bible scholar, husband and father–passed away. Ingram died of a heart attack while asleep at his Los Angeles home. He was 58.
As a pastor of nearly 40 years and founder of Maranatha Community Church, Dr. Ingram touched many lives from celebrities to ordinary people. The impact of his life is reflected in the following obituary:
Dr. Ingram, founder/pastor of Maranatha Community Church in Los Angeles for 31 years, passed away suddenly on March 8, 2011 of a heart attack at home in his sleep. He was taken by paramedics to Kaiser Permanente on Cadillac Drive in Los Angeles where the doctors declared his passing. Pastor Billy, as he was fondly known, was 58 years old.
He was born on July 19, 1952 in Florence, Alabama. The Ingram family relocated to Los Angeles in 1956. Ingram graduated from Morningside High School in Los Angeles in 1970. While in high school, he believed in himself enough to set records and goals for his followers to reach, much like his ministry. He was a standout basketball player, receiving a full scholarship to the University of Oregon. There, he continued to set records and standards for his followers athletically, academically and spiritually. Ingram transferred to Biola University after receiving the call to ministry. He graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor in Biblical Studies.
The same year he was married to Margaurite Ingram and to that union three children were born. In the early 70’s Ingram preached his first sermon passionately with the power of God, seeking to reach souls for the kingdom of God. He did as he was called to do, but did not stop there. He continued to take God’s direction.
One of the greatest highlight of his life was to spend 21 years studying under the brilliant and humble international scholar, Dr. Butrus Abdul Malik. Through his direction and guidance he later received his Ph.D. in History with an emphasis on Greek and Hebrew from the California Graduate School of Theology.
Over the last nearly four decades, Dr. Ingram captivated crowds and used his charisma to communicate God’s word with clarity. His unique style was insightful, engaging and inspiring. Ingram was the founder and pastor of what has become a highly respected place of hope, help and healing in the community. On April 26, 1980 Maranatha Community Church was birthed out of a home prayer group of six people.
Over years, numerous ministries have been launched and young ministers have been equipped, trained and gone forth in the service of God. As a philanthropist, Dr. Ingram sought to help the poor and downtrodden. He had provided scholarships to worthy and needy students in the community and congregation.
Dr. Ingram took the education and experiences of our youth to heart as he had been a part of giving them more than what’s expected. He took the phrase of ‘children are our future’ seriously. In 1996, he led a group of 21 teenagers on a tour of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, where they met tribal chiefs and elders of the land. The group was exposed to the ancient slave ports where many of their ancestors began their painful journey to America. In 2004 he established Boys to Men, a mentorship program for boys ages 12-21.
Dr. Ingram was known around the world. He had traveled and trained pastors in London, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and many throughout the U.S. He had a pastor’s heart and his love for God’s children has led him to create outreach ministries in other countries. His care was extended to leper colonies and vocational schools for the blind, schools for the disadvantaged and AIDS orphanages. Dr. Ingram served as a Diplomat and Good Will Ambassador to Korea with a delegation of Korean and African American pastors. In 1994, he led a handpicked group of 30 African American pastors on a tour of Israel at the request of the Israeli government.
Dr. Ingram revisited Africa numerous times as well as Asia and The Holy Land, all with the purpose of serving God. On his last visit to Israel, the Minister of Tourism personally came to greet Dr. Ingram and his group at their hotel and was shocked that Dr. Ingram addressed and thanked the Minister in Hebrew.
Dr. Ingram was a renowned scholar, he speaks in simple terms to children, young adults and elders and he also inspired and influenced those on Hollywood’s front line (celebrities, athletes and entertainers). Countless numbers have benefited from his latest book Faith Lifts, as well as his Inspirational and Motivational Prayer Book. His most magnificent piece of work was his spoken word piece, “The Legacy,” which captures the true essence of black history and even inspired the late Rosa Parks. Several authors, entertainers and fellow poets have spoken highly of this marvelous work, some comparing it to the “I Have a Dream” speech.
Additionally, Dr. Ingram served as a professional photographer for Getty and Wire Images. He had been privileged to photograph President Barack Obama and his wife First Lady Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, Alicia Keys, Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, Tim McGraw, Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis and the list goes on. Dr. Ingram was an author, actor, educator, poet, percussionist, humanitarian, philanthropist, husband and a father.
Dr. Ingram was married to Solombra Ingram for 11 years. They have twin sons, Samuel and Solomon Ingram, who are 9 years old. Dr. Ingram also had three children from his first marriage; Billy G. Ingram II (31), Marian Ingram (28) and Karis Ingram (25). He was the son of the late Will Chester Ingram and Anna Juanita Ingram of Los Angeles. He has one brother, Michael Ingram, and four sisters Stacey Gipson, Taanasa Ingram of Los Angeles and Stephanie Ingram of Atlanta, GA and the late Trina Ingram-Weir of Florida. He leaves a host of faithful church members, nieces, nephews and friends.
The Celebration of the Life of Dr. Billy G. Ingram service will be on Friday, March 18 at 11:00 a.m. at West Angeles Cathedral, 3600 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016 (323-733-8300).