Funeral Services Set For Cleveland Pentecostal Bishop J. Delano Ellis II
Funeral services for Bishop J. Delano Ellis II will be held throughout the weekend, beginning with a public viewing from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Pentecostal Church of Christ in University Circle, where he served as senior pastor. Ellis died Saturday at the age of 75.
Born in Pennsylvania, Ellis served at the Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Ten., for more than three decades prior to coming to Cleveland, where he inspired many in his congregation and the community.
Ellis was a large part of Bishop David Maldonado’s decision to become a minister. Maldonado now serves at Christ International Church in Orlando, Fla. he got his start in Cleveland, where he drove past the Pentecostal Church of Christ every day of high school.
Maldonado attended a service led by Ellis, he said, and felt the call to the clergy.
“Somehow I knew I’d be connected to him, working with ministry,” Maldonado said. “My father was a pastor on the west side of town. I had no idea how, coming from a Hispanic church, I would connect with an African-American church. I just kind of sensed it, knew it in my heart.”
Maldonado was later consecrated as a bishop through Bishop Ellis. Ellis was an inspiring preacher and hymnist, Maldonado said, and the Northeast Ohio community knew him as a boisterous, engaged leader who reached across denominations.
“It didn’t matter if it was Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist,” Maldonado said. “Pastors in the city knew him very well because of his outspokenness and his stature.”
Ellis helped launch organizations that mentored and taught upcoming pastors and bishops. He served as Metropolitan Archbishop for the Joint College of Bishops, and his widespread influence is visible on the Pentecostal Church’s Facebook page, with comments honoring his memory from across the United States and as far away as Spain.
“He was a loving, caring type of leader and always had a mind to do what’s best for Christians at large,” Maldonado said. “He never really thought about just himself.”
Earlier this month, two blocks of Chester Avenue in Cleveland were named after Ellis. Members of the church and clergy spoke in honor of the bishop at the naming ceremony, including his wife, Rev. Sabrina J. Ellis.
“I can’t be any more proud than I am of my own husband, my best friend, my babies’ daddy,” Rev. Sabrina Ellis said. “All of that, all of that. He is the man.”
The community is better for the work Ellis did, Maldonado said, but moving on without him will be bittersweet. Ellis made members of his congregation feel like part of a family, Maldonado said.
“He’d often start off by saying, ‘Precious dears,’ and then he’d say whatever he had to say,” Maldonado said. “It made the community of the faithful feel like we really had a father. And that’s who he was. He was a father to everyone.”
Sabrina Ellis is still serving at Pentecostal Church of Christ, where she worked alongside her husband. Ellis leaves behind five children, one foster child, 24 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The church will hold public viewings and events to honor Ellis throughout the weekend, including public viewings on Friday and Sunday.
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