Prayers and condolences surround the sad news that Her Grace Bishop Dr. Iona E. Locke, founder of Abyssinia Christ Centered Ministries and a Presiding Prelate of the Christ Centered Ministries Assembly, passed away on Friday, December 18, 2020, released in a statement by Gwendolyn Quinn, public relations professional, on behalf of Bishop Locke’s family.
The much-beloved and renowned pastor was noted for her dedication to the Word, devotion to the global community, her powerfully anointed preaching, and her influential teachings and recordings. Bishop Locke’s Official Necrological Arrangements include her Laying In State Ceremony, to be held Sunday, December 27, 2020, beginning at noon EST, at the Abyssinia Christ Centered Ministries in Southfield, MI. A Service of Entombment will follow on Monday, December 28, 2020, at noon EST in the Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, MI. Bishop Locke will be further memorialized with The Celebration of Victory, scheduled for May 16, 2021; details are to follow.
The loss of Bishop Locke is immeasurable, as noted by the renowned fellow pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes, who shared the following on Instagram: “Growing up as a young man, one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life was to hear Dr. Iona Locke preach the gospel. She was a young girl, a child prodigy, one of the greatest orators I had ever witnessed. Her voice was distinctive, her singing anointed, her prophesy spellbinding and her boldness unrivaled. She’s now wrapped in the mantle of the episcopal, chartered away from this cold world in chariots of fire like Elijah! She has slipped beyond the veil. Some would say, she was an amazing female preacher. But, gender had nothing to do with the glory that rested on her. Few men or women wanted to grab a mic she dropped … She leaves a cavernous hole in the Lord’s church and shoes too big to fill … Bishop Iona Locke has transitioned and her legacy remains in all who were saved, filled, and blessed by her gift! As David said of Jonathan, ‘your seat is empty and you shall be missed!’”
Bishop Dr. Iona E. Locke was born May 16, 1949, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is one of nine siblings. At an early age, she came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, and according to Acts 2:4, she was baptized with the Holy Spirit. She began her education in the Pittsburgh School System, and later attended Harty’s Bible School and continued to complete her doctorate in Theology and Divinity Programs in July 1994. She later was able to train under such noted leaders as Bishop F.M. Thomas of Pittsburgh, PA, the late Bishop Robert McMurray of Los Angeles, CA, and Elder John Lloyd of Bridgeport, CT, and from her father in the gospel, Bishop Norman L. Wagner, former Presiding Prelate of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., Youngstown, OH. Bishop Locke has traveled extensively to spread The Word across the United States, as well as Canada, Italy, West Germany, London, England, the Bahamas, South Africa, The Netherlands, Ireland, Israel, and Antigua, British West Indies.
Her powerful and effecting sermons caught the attention of Intersound Records in 1993. Bishop Locke recorded two compact disc messages released on the Intersound label: What Kind of Fool Are You? and Let’s Get It On! These releases mark Bishop Locke as the first Pentecostal preacher to have the spoken Word distributed on compact disc.
On August 17, 1994, Dr. Locke established Abyssinia Christ Centered Ministries; its Mission Statement includes: “To love our brothers and sisters, to give of ourselves, to do all to obey God, to be priestly through Godly relationship.” She was consecrated as bishop on August 23, 2000, as the Presiding Prelate of Christ Centered Ministries Assembly covering ministry gifts, para-church ministries, and churches in the United States of America, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, South America, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, and South Africa.
Bishop Locke has also served in numerous roles within the church community. She was Former Vice President of International Young People’s Union of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World; Former Under-Shepherd Pastor of Greater Bethany Community Church, Los Angeles, CA; Former Director of Ecclesiastical Affairs – Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church, Youngstown, OH; Assistant Pastor Emeritus – Perfecting Church, Detroit, MI; Board Member of E.C. Reems International Women’s Ministry, Oakland, CA; CEO – Christ Centered Ministries, Southfield, MI; and CEO – Empire Community Development Center, Southfield, MI.
Her Grace Bishop Locke is also the co-founder of LeChateau Earl Records, an independent label established in 2009, with her longtime business partner, Damien Sneed, which means House of Nobility. Bishop Locke released her solo debut album with music and spoken word titled, Kingdom Victory Live (2012). LeChateau Earl is committed to giving artists a platform to deliver fresh music capable of inspiring the masses through multiple genres including gospel, jazz, classical, and popular music.
On August 8, 2017, Bishop Locke released her first book, Poised To Emerge: The Power To Become, originally the title of her doctoral dissertation, which offers insight into the struggle over gender apartheid from a perspective of those who were held hostage by tradition and institutionalized sexism, which yet have strongholds over religious practices today. The book has served as a powerful inspiration to many, particularly women in the ministry.
In the official announcement of her passing, Bishop Carolyn D. Showell noted, “As a General in the Lord’s Church, the dimensions of her assignment have made a sound in this earth that will travel dispensationally through time until we all meet again around God’s throne.”