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Thursday, July 30, 2009
Reverend Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, better known as Reverend Ike, dies
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Reverend Ike, nationally famous radio evangelist from Ridgeland, dies at 74

rev-ike1Colorful and wealthy radio, television and Internet evangelist Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, better known as Reverend Ike, died In Los Angeles, California, July 28, 2009 of a stroke. He was 74. He was a native of Ridgeland SC and got his start on the radio at a station in Beaufort.

Born June 31, 1935, in Ridgeland SC, Reverend Ike was the son of a Baptist preacher of Dutch-Indonesian extraction and an African-American mother. At age 14 he began his career as a teenage preacher when he became assistant pastor to his father at Bible Way Church in Ridgeland.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force as a chaplain service specialist (a non-commissioned officer assigned to assist chaplains), he founded, successively, the United Church of Jesus Christ for All People in Ridgeland and Beaufort, the United Christian Evangelistic Association in Boston, Massachusetts (which was his main corporate entity), and the Christ Community United Church in New York City.

Reverend Ike first branched out from Ridgeland with his flamboyant style of self-help “prosperity religion” to preach in the 1950s and early 1960s primarily to African-Americans on a Sunday radio program on the Lowcountry’s first commercial radio station, WBEU-AM in Beaufort.

rev-ike2He was an articulate and dynamic speaker with a handsome and winsome personage to whom followers were attracted by his self-confidence and inspirational claims that they too could be like Reverend Ike.

He founded his United Church of Jesus Christ for All People in Beaufort that led him to realize his power as an inspirational preacher who could raise thousands and ultimately millions of dollars a year for himself and his religious organization over the radio. He was an early example of the power of the electronic preacher to raise money with techniques later perfected by Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and other latter-day televangelists.

rev-ike3 His main source of income in his early days was sale of “prayer cloths”, pictured left, that continue today to be sold in a set of two for $10.00 on his organization’s web site. Purchasers of the cloths were promised that Reverend Ike would pray for them and that if they believed strong enough in him they too would have prosperity by continuing to send money to Reverend Ike.

Reverend Ike’s ministry reached its peak in the mid 1970s when his weekly radio sermons were carried by hundreds of radio stations across the United States and he had a following of 2,500,000 people. He was still active as of 2007 with a presence on the Internet and a syndicated television program.

rev-ike4He was most famous for his slogan “You can’t lose with the stuff I use!” That “stuff” included a fleet of Rolls Royce automobiles that he shamelessly collected and displayed to prove to his followers that wealth followed whomever could use a silver tongue to cajole money from trusting followers, Reverend Ike being the prime example.

He fully restored and owned the Christ United Church “Palace Cathedral” in Manhattan’s Washington Heights section. The theatre was one of the grandest and most extravagant of the “Wonder Theater” movie palaces of the 1930s in Manhattan that fell on hard times in later decades.

Intended as a stage theatre, it opened February 15th, 1930, and housed vaudeville shows for uptown residents. With the decline of vaudeville and the growing popularity of moving pictures, the theatre was quickly converted to a deluxe movie house and renamed Loew’s 175th Street Theatre.

rev-ike5His restoration of the movie palace into his church included the seven-story high, twin chamber Robert Morton organ that was a feature of the original movie theatre. The “Miracle Star of Faith,” visible from the George Washington Bridge, now tops the cupola of the building.

The International Theatre Organ Guild Society has restored the organ and holds its international conventions and concerts in the building with performers from around the world. It is claimed to be the only such large vaudeville theatre organ anywhere left in its original site.

People who have been inspired and motivated by Reverend Ike include Mark Victor Hansen, the multi-millionaire and co-author of the “Chicken Soup” series of motivational books. Hansen credits Reverend Ike with his own financial awakening and says that if you follow the steps to success articulated by Reverend Ike and himself, “you will achieve even more than you dream.”

Reverend Ike was also the “chancellor” of the United Church Schools, which include the Science of Living Institute and Seminary, which awarded him the D.Sc.L. degree (Doctor of the Science of Living); the Business of Living Institute, home of his Thinkonomics program; and other educational projects that are promoted on a web site. He also offered a large number of books, audio and video tapes, magazines and his famous “prayer cloths” to followers.

The Reverend Mrs. Eula M. Dent Eikerenkoetter (“Rev. Mrs. Ike”), B.A., M.A., D.Sc.L., his wife, served as Senior Co-Pastor, and his son, The Right Reverend Xavier Frederick Eikerenkoetter (“Rev. Ike’s Son”), B.A., M.Sc.L, D.Sc.L., was his “Bishop Coadjutor.”

Source: Wikipedia and personal knowledge of the editor of The Beaufort Tribune, who was an owner of radio station WBEU-AM in Beaufort during Reverend Ike’s time in Beaufort.

Photos: Reverend Ike’s web site.

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