In life, Bishop Dr. C.M. Bailey was a career-long minister of one of the most unique African-American denominations in the country, and whenever he visited one of the 137 congregations of the United House of Prayer it was a big deal.
Just as he was celebrated while alive, Bishop Bailey’s life was commemorated in a major way with final tributes that included a motorcade into five cities and concluded Friday during a national funeral at God’s White House of the United House of Prayer in Washington, D.C.
In the tradition of the founder of United House of Prayer (UHOP) Bishop C.M. “Sweet Daddy” Grace, and previous Bishops Walter “Sweety Daddy” McCullough and S.C. “Sweet Daddy” Madison, Bailey was called “Sweet Daddy,” and, as many of the denominations’ auxiliaries, carried the name of their leaders.
Bailey passed away at the age of 73.
He was in his 56th year as a minister in the UHOP organization and his 15th year as leader and sole trustee of the United House of Prayer for All People. Bailey was conducting the organization’s convocation in Philadelphia when he died.
Apostle R.C. Lattisaw, pastor of the United House of Prayer in Portsmouth, Virginia, presided over the three-hour memorial service in Washington, D.C. on Friday, which was filled with choirs, ensembles, and brass bands by UHOP groups from several cities and states.
In addition to the reading of the Old and New Testament, more than a dozen church leaders offered tributes with Apostle A.D. Cunningham, pastor of God’s White House preaching the eulogy.
“There are those who have never understood the House of Prayer. Bishop Bailey pastored me for more than two decades in Augusta,” said Edler Dr. L Murray, director of special projects for the UHOP. “It is not just about the playing of the bands, this is about the preaching of a biblical gospel that is Christ-focused. What matters is the lives that have been changed and people growing closer to Christ.”
In addition to the unique architecture of their building, UHOP leaders often point out how the church has constructed affordable housing for people across the U.S. and there is a sense of discipline and devotion across its membership.
The Washington, D.C. celebration of Bishop Bailey’s life was preceded by a week of services that began Saturday, Aug. 26 at the United House of Prayer in Augusta, Georgia. The following Sunday evening, the United House of Prayer in Charlotte, North Carolina honored Bailey, and then on Monday, the motorcade went to Newport News, Virginia and on Wednesday evening services were held at the UHOP in New York City.
Elder Murray said one of the most moving tributes was seeing traffic stopped on the George Washington Memorial Bridge in New York as the New York City and state police escorted Bailey’s motorcade Wednesday night into New Jersey.
“The services were held at night… for members who wanted to say farewell to someone dear to them,” said Murray who was part of the motorcade for the entire journey. “The tributes were heartfelt and moving because Bishop Baikwy by his example and the preaching of the gospel was very much in the same footsteps as our founders Daddy Grace, Daddy McCullough, and Daddy Madison.”
On Thursday night Bailey was brought to the United House of Prayer at 601 M Street, NW, Washington, D.C. for the final wake and the funeral service was held at noon with church leaders by six bands. The bands came from all over and included: The Sounds of Zion, Top Band, Clouds of Heaven, Charlotte Motherhouse, Bailey Hummingbirds, and the Reunion Uplifters. The choirs present included the Bailey Adult Choir, from West Baltimore, Maryland, the Golden Angels, and the God’s White House choir.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bower and many members of the D.C. Council attended and offered resolutions in recognition of Bailey.
Murray said one of Bishop Bailey’s quotes was “Give God everything. He had a focus on holiness and selfless giving,” Murray said.
“He said give to God with all your heart, all of your mind, all of soul, and your strength.”
Dressed in their white robes, the members of the Bailey General Council stood at the steps of God’s White House as the Grace Royal Guard, dressed in their blue uniforms, carried Bishop Bailey’s cherry wood casket out of the sanctuary.
“The Bailey General Council is the highest ecclesiastical body of the United House of Prayer,” said Murray, adding that more will be said at the appropriate time in terms of the church’s plans.
“The church is moving forward.”