The Honorable Most Reverend Louis Henry Ford or Bishop L. H. Ford, was the fourth leader of the Church of God in Christ and the second elected Presiding Bishop of the church who succeeded Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Ford pastored the St. Paul COGIC in Chicago and was the presiding prelate of the Historic Illinois First Jurisdiction .
Bishop Louis Henry Ford was born in 1914 in Mississppi. From the very start, with being raised in the C.O.G.I.C., Bishop Ford wanted to be a preacher for the Church of God in Christ and wanted to "use the church as a platform to spread the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ", as he said in the Holy Convocation in Memphis, Tennessee in 1992. With being raised in the C.O.G.I.C., Ford met with Reverend Bishop Mason on several occasions even during his childhood, and because Bishop Mason was one of his biggest inspirations, Bishop Mason decided to become his personal mentor in the Gospel. In the early 1940's, Louis Henry Ford married a young woman who lived in Chicago named Margaret and had two children (Charles Ford and Janet Ford Hill) with her, both of whom are ministers in the church today.Edit
Ford's impact on the COGIC prior to the formation of the General BoardEdit
Throughout the 30's and 40's, then Elder Ford gained popularity throughout all of Illinois with his Gospel preaching and his ministry outreach. Elder Ford was also a powerful advocate for social justice during the Civil Rights Movement, and in 1955 when Emmett Till was murdered, Ford preached the eulogy for Till's funeral. Because of his both solemn and charismatic preaching at Till's funeral, Ford gained popularity throughout the entire country and throughout the entire C.O.G.I.C. denomination.
General Board (1968-1990)Edit
Elder Ford was ordained a Bishop in the Church in the 1950's. After Bishop Mason's death in 1961 and after Bishop O. T. Jones left the office of Senior Bishop in 1968, the COGIC became more of an ecclesiastical denomination instead of a congregational denomination when the church formed the General Board. Bishop Ford was one of the first twelve chosen to lead the church on the General Board, and after Bishop J.O. Patterson, Sr. was elected Presiding Bishop, Bishop Ford became the first First Assistant Presiding Bishop, with Bishop Chandler D. Owens being elected as the first Second Assistant Presiding Bishop. Bishop Ford immediately began working with the other General Board members to institutionalize the church so that the church could be more effective in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ across the nation and across the world. At the same time, though, Bishop Ford constantly urged the church to keep the doctrine of true holiness according to the Holy Bible. Although many people thought he did not have a heavy impact on the COGIC leadership while he was the assistant Presiding Bishop because he seemed to remain in the shadow of Bishop Patterson, Bishop Ford had much influence on Bishop Patterson's decisions regarding the religious affairs of the church. It was Bishop Ford who convinced Bishop Patterson to have "Holy Ghost tarrying services" (to allow people who didn't have the Holy Spirit to tarry for it and recieve His spiritual gifts) in the annual International Women's Conventions, AIM Conventions, and Holy Convocations. Bishop Ford was not only Bishop Patterson's assistant in the ministry of the church, but he and his family were very good friends with Bishop Patterson and his family. When Bishop Patterson was diagnosed with cancer in 1988, he immediately declared Bishop Ford to be his successor. After Bishop Patterson died in 1989 and Bishop Ford preached the eulogy for his funeral in January 1990, Bishop Ford was immediately elected and ordained to the office of Presiding Bishop near April of 1990.
Presiding Bishop (1990-1995)Edit
After being elected to the office of Presiding Bishop, Bishop Ford began spreading missions to help the poor and the needy throughout the United States and built homeless shelters throughout Tennessee and the rest of the United States. Even with this, that was not the only thing that made his tenure as Presiding Bishop what the members of the COGIC remember it to be today. What made his tenure as Presiding Bishop very memorable was his stand and his views on the Biblical doctrine of holiness. Bishop Ford was a strong and powerful advocate for Biblical holiness and he encouraged all the members of the church to adhere to the teachings of holiness in the Old Testament and in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. Bishop Ford also taught that after you get saved and start living holy, you must have the Holy Ghost. Bishop Ford was the main person who introduced the doctrine that besides being saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, that being baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost in Biblical standards was one of the most important things of being a good, saved Christian. Bishop Ford was reelected to the office of Presiding Bishop in 1994, but died in 1995. He is currently buried in Chicago, Illinois. He was succeeded by Bishop Chandler D. Owens.
After Bishop Ford's death in 1995, the Calumet Expressway of Interstate 94 in northeastern Illinois was renamed the Bishop Louis Henry Ford Freeway as a memorial to him. The Bishop Louis Henry Ford Freeway runs from Interstate 57 south to the intersection with Interstate 80, Interstate 294 (Tri-State Tollway) and Illinois Route 394. Also, Bishop Ford was posthumously given many highly honorable awards by the Church of God in Christ, many Christian denominations around the United States, other Christian organizations and associations, the city of Chicago, and the state of Illinois. Throughout the 1990's, Margaret Ford and her children accepted the awards on her late husband's (and their late father's) behalf.