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House of Prayer Bishop Had Deep Roots in D.C.

By Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 7, 2008

Bishop S.C. "Daddy" Madison, who for 17 years guided the United House of Prayer for All People, an affluent African American denomination based in the District, died Saturday night at his home in Northwest Washington. He was 86.

Madison became ill after Easter Sunday, the last time he attended church services, church officials said. He was the third leader of the 1.5 million-member church organization, which has 150 branches in 25 states and multimillion-dollar real estate ventures in cities across the country.

During his tenure, Madison erected and dedicated more than 100 sanctuaries throughout the country. He continued to build affordable multi-family housing, assisted living facilities and commercial retail establishments. He also created scholarships for young people and enhanced minister-education programs.

The House of Prayer has deep local roots in Washington's Shaw neighborhood. At a time when many congregations have left downtown, the House of Prayer continues to be an economic force. It was among the first institutions to rebuild after the 1968 riots sparked by the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"We will continue in his legacy. We will continue to do what we have been doing: that is, giving God the praise," said Apostle H.L. Whitner, pastor of God's White House, the D.C. headquarters of the church, at Sixth and M streets NW.

During services at the church yesterday, men, women and children cried and danced in the aisle as the Lively Stones, a brass ensemble organized by Madison, played hymns and gospel music dedicated to a leader the congregation called "Daddy." Before becoming bishop, Madison was pastor of the D.C. church for many years.

"He led us for more than 30 years, and his loss will not be just for the House of Prayer but for the entire community," said Whitner, adding that Madison enjoyed the festive service and music of the House of Prayer. "Music gives us an opportunity to express ourselves, to release our emotions. The Word said, 'The joy of the Lord is our strength.' "

The House of Prayer was founded by Bishop Charles Manuel Grace, who was born in Cape Verde. Sweet Daddy Grace, as he was called, built the first United House of Prayer in West Wareham, Mass., and incorporated the United House of Prayer for All People in Washington in 1927.

When Grace died in 1960, Bishop Walter "Sweet Daddy" McCollough took over as head of the denomination. He served for 31 years until his death in 1991. Madison succeeded McCullough after winning a close election against McCollough's son, the Rev. Leon McCollough.

A few months after the election, McCollough and his supporters filed suit in U.S. District Court, charging that the election was a fraud. In 1992, Clara McCollough, the bishop's wife, was embroiled in a battle to be buried next to her husband of 53 years in the church's burial site at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Church officials said yesterday that all differences have been reconciled.

In a tradition that dates to 1920s, the church held a mass baptismal service last summer in which hundreds of people were soaked with a fire hose on the street in front of God's White House.

Madison, sporting shoulder-length gray hair like his predecessors, spoke to the crowd: "If you have sinned since last year, you need to get into the water and be baptized. If you have a sickness and need to be healed, you need to get into the water and be baptized."

Madison led an organization that has its heaviest concentration of congregations along the East Coast. This week, his body will be taken to Augusta, Ga., Charlotte, N.C., Newport News, Va., and New York for viewing by congregations. On Sunday, his body will be at God's White House, where a funeral will take place Monday.

Madison lived in a large Tudor house on North Portal Drive NW that belongs to the church. For decades during the Christmas season, members of the church have decorated the house and grounds with angels and toy soldiers and a life-size manger scene, all lighted by a dazzling array of lights. It attracts residents from throughout the area, as well as buses from House of Prayer congregations across the country.

"It's such a good way to celebrate the birth of Jesus," Elizabeth D. Madison, the bishop's wife of 32 years and sole survivor, said in early 2000.

Madison was born Feb. 24, 1922, to Samuel and Rosa Lee Madison and was the eldest of four children. At 8, he joined the recently formed United House of Prayer. In his youth, he was a Boy Scout and played the drums and percussions and was a deacon in the church.

In 1940, he was ordained as a minister in the House of Prayer by Daddy Grace, the church's founder. Shortly after becoming a minister, he received his first assignment as a pastor in Lancaster, S.C. He also served in Salisbury, N.C., Hopewell, Va., and Philadelphia.

At 23, he was appointed by Grace to the General Council of the House of Prayer, the highest ecclesiastical body of the organization. During his tenure, he served in various capacities.

In 1969, Madison became pastor of God's White House and chairman of the D.C. and Maryland jurisdiction of the United House of Prayer.

In 1995, he received the African American male IMAGE Award from the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. He traveled to the Holy Land as a guest of the Israeli government, where he was awarded a distinguished certificate as a Jerusalem Pilgrim.

His first wife, Lucille Wynn Madison, died in 1975.

Apostle R.C. Lattisaw, pastor of the United House of Prayer in Alexandria, said that after a period of mourning the General Assembly of the United House of Prayer will convene to elect a new bishop.

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