Slightly more than a year ago, in May, 2012, NolaVie and WWNO, Public Radio in New Orleans, co-produced and aired a series of programs focusing on the disturbingly high level of violent crime in our city. Among the many contributors to the week-long series were leading professionals in the fields of education, public safety and mental health.
And then there was the Pastor John C. Raphael Jr.
His church, New Hope Baptist Church, is in Central City, ground zero for so much grief and pain. He was our go-to man for honest and insightful commentary on what was happening in his community, which is our community, and what we might do about it.
John Raphael was a big man. You couldn’t miss him in a room; 6 and a half feet tall and built like a linebacker. But it was his heart and his commitment to this community that really made him a big man.
The son of the first African American policeman on the New Orleans police force, Pastor Raphael was himself a policeman for 15 years before giving it up for the ministry. He led his church for 25 years, always working to curb the violence that was, and is, running rampant in our city; trying so hard to keep precious youth from falling prey to “the street.”
Pastor John C. Raphael Jr. died on Tuesday, June 25. He was 60. We mourn his loss and send out condolences and respect to his family and his congregation.
Visitation will be Thursday, June 27 at 3 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church, 1807 LaSalle St., followed by a worship service at 7 p.m. The funeral will be held on July 3 at 9 a.m. at the MahaliaJacksonTheater in ArmstrongPark