Who We Are
In the early 70's, God planted the seeds for this ministry in the discussions led by a maturing young man named Walter Hawkins. These informal conversations eventually led to a regular, organized bible study which included plenty of "revolutionary" dialog. As this group grew rapidly, Walter Hawkins realized God's call and commission and accepted the gospel ministry and pastoral care of the souls given.
Love Center was founded in 1972 and located in the "flatlands" of East Oakland where after a very short time the church bought a "storefront" property at 8901 MacArthur Blvd. During the next ten years, the membership overcrowded the one-room church.
Although the church grew and made its home at several locations down through the years, Pastor Hawkins consistently preached the gospel of Jesus Christ which saves, liberates and attracts people of all walks life and denominations. After 40 years, Love Center Ministries continues to deal effectively with the complex challenges of life through the support of the membership and the community at large.
Within only a few years following the inception of Love Center Church, the ministry revolutionized gospel music with the release of Love Alive I in 1975. This album gave popularity to such timeless classics as Follow Me, Dear Jesus I Love You, Changed and Goin Up Yonder. With a sound that drew inspiration from the turbulent 60’s and 70’s, Walter Hawkins introduced a refreshing approach towards worship that quickly found an audience both among young Christians and a secular society. His beginnings in the gospel music industry started in 1968 when the Edwin Hawkins Singers recorded Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord. Initially, the album was to be sold locally, but it soon became an international hit when the song Oh Happy Day hit the radio. The project sold more than a million copies.
In hindsight, the manifold ramifications of these early beginnings is realized, as they certainly influenced the nearly 40 years of music ministry at Love Center. The Love Alive series continued with Walter Hawkins & The Love Center Choir recording Love Alive II in 1978, Love Alive III in 1985, Love Alive IV in 1990, and Love Alive V in 1997. In addition to the choir projects, Pastor Hawkins recorded and toured for decades with The Hawkins Family, a family musical unit consisting of former wife Tramaine Hawkins, siblings Carol, Daniel, Edwin, Feddie, Lynette, cousin Shirley Miller, nephew Joel Smith, as well as Pastor Yvette Flunder and Brenda Roy. Moreover, and as an extension of the ministry, brothers Edwin and Walter Hawkins founded the Music & Arts Love Fellowship Conference (formerly the Edwin Hawkins Music & Arts Seminar), which focuses on music and arts development and provides pastors and their congregations the opportunity to refresh their spirits through joint praise, worship and education without regard to denominational affiliation.
Music has always been an integral part of Love Center Church and has been revered for its powerful influence. Our Founder, Bishop Walter Hawkins, was a prolific songwriter as well as an extraordinary producer, vocalist, and musician. We understand from scripture that the anointing oil flows from the head downward (Psalm 133). If there be any validity to this symbolism and illustration, it would stand to give reason to why this ministry has cultivated and attracted so many talented singers and musicians over the years. Pastor Hawkins was great at recognizing and cultivating the gifts within the membership and this celebration of artistry most certainly helped to shape at least one facet of the character of this ministry.
Two important themes at the core of ministry at Love Center are relevance and relatability. There is an absolute necessity for both in ministry, especially in the ministry of music. People need to relate to the message in a song. In an interview Pastor Hawkins once stated, "I don’t think you can relay the message of Jesus Christ with any authority if, first of all, you don’t have an understanding of what you’re singing about. Secondly, I think anointing has everything to do with intimacy with the Lord. It must be on an experiential level; there must be some walking with the Lord. There is a price for ministry. If you’re not willing to pay the price, I don’t think your ministry will ever be really effective. Growth and progression in God are absolute necessities. That means there has got to be some hard knocks and things that God does to adjust you in order for you to be effective."