Last Saturday, September 26th, the Biddy Mason Foundation brought together people from all across the city to celebrate Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray’s 80th birthday and assist many people living on Skid Row.
Volunteers gathered in the morning for service projects at Union Rescue Mission and the surrounding area. At 1:00pm, festivities began in the San Julian Park. The afternoon was kicked off with a party for local children complete with face-painting, cotton candy, and snow cones! Over 500 people were able to enjoy hotdogs and hamburgers, meet with a job recruiter, and watch amazing performances by J’n’J Soulful Steps and The Spiritual Hi-Tones. The party was complete with cake and the singing of “Happy Birthday” led by Mayor Villaraigosa. Volunteers also handed out water to Skid Row residents, which was much-appreciated on a hot summer afternoon!
Union Rescue Mission was delighted to be able to be a part of the celebration. Rev. Andy Bales commented, “What an honor it was to be invited to celebrate the One who sent legendary Rev. Dr. Chip Murray to Los Angeles. We were proud to assist Rev. Murray and 1st AME Church as they brought love and hope to the people on Skid Row for his 80th Birthday Celebration.”
Rev. Murray joined the faculty of USC’s School of Religion after retiring from pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME). Throughout his 27-years as FAME’s pastor, Rev. Murray transformed a small congregation of 300 into an 18,000 person church, with multi-million dollar community and economic development programs that have brought jobs, housing, and corporate investment to many neighborhoods in South Los Angeles. He is known throughout the community for his passion to have African American Church leaders of the Civil Rights generation pass on their years of experience, spiritual authority, and political pragmatism to the next generation. In 2005, he was appointed by Mayor Villaraigosa to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Commission (LAHSA) which coordinates and manages over $70 million annually in Federal, State, County and City funds for programs which provide shelter, housing and services to those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
Union Rescue Mission would like to send a warm thank-you to everyone who participated in the celebration; it is always a blessing to join with others to bring hope to those who need it the most.