Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington made a special appearance at the recent "Blessing of the Elders" ceremony at the Museum of the Bible.
Several black pastors were recognized at the June 23 event for the significant impact that their ministry has had on others.
Washington, who has been outspoken about his Christian faith, was invited to introduce Pastor A.R. Bernard and present him with an award, Religion News Service reports.
"It's been an amazing 40-year journey from Bishop Blake's church, where I first was filled with the Holy Spirit, to tonight," Washington said.
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The actor pointed out that Bernard is, "a man of God with a mind of God. It has been a blessing for all of us to be students of Pastor A.R. Bernard. It's been a blessing for me personally to have someone that I can talk to, ask questions," Washington remarked.
CBN News previously reported that Washington opened up about his spiritual journey, revealing what he's learned along the way during a candid interview with Pastor Bernard in 2020.
"I have been prayed for and supported by many people, but specifically my mother and my wife now and for a long time," Washington told Bernard during the interview. "I've been protected. There's been a hedge around me and a legion of prayer."
Bernard is the pastor at the Christian Cultural Center (CCC) in Brooklyn, NY where he ministers to over 45,000 members.
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While being honored at the museum's World Stage Theater, Bernard said, "Embracing Christianity, blacks didn't seek to imitate white Christianity - oh no, instead we created a parallel religious culture, our own brand of Christianity with our own hymns, music, style of worship, much influenced by the challenge of slavery."
He continued, "Christianity gave Blacks hope in the midst of a hopeless situation, and we're not done yet. I believe the 21st century will see the Black church lead the way to hope and healing in a deeply divided nation."
Other honorees at the recent event included: Bishop Charles E. Blake of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ; Pastor Shirley Caesar of Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church in Raleigh, North Carolina; Pastor Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas; Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas; Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and evangelical civil rights leader John Perkins.
Pastor Bernard, who is chairman of the Blessing of the Elders Steering Committee, said he is delighted that the spiritual legacy of America's black church is being celebrated.
"The remarkable history of the black church in America demonstrates a biblical faith under pressure that should inspire people of any generation. We are elated that the indelible mark of our community on the fabric of American society is finally being acknowledged," he said in a statement.