AHF Remembers and Thanks Rev. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray

In Featured, News by Ged Kenslea

World’s largest HIV/AIDS healthcare provider honors longtime Senior Pastor of L.A.’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church

LOS ANGELES (April 11, 2024) – AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest HIV healthcare provider, today mourns the passing of Reverend Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray, longtime Pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. Murray, 94, died at his home in Los Angeles on Friday evening.


“I worked closely with Reverend Murray when he was the Senior Pastor at First African Methodist Episcopal Church in the mid-80s and late 1990s. When I started implementing free HIV mobile testing in LA County in 1991—a time before lifesaving HIV medications were available and when stigma was high—Reverend Murray allowed us to come to FAME Church on Sundays, routinely, to offer free HIV screening services,” said Cynthia Davis, Vice Chair of AHF’s Board of Directors and Assistant Professor and Program Director in the College of Medicine and College of Science and Health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. “He was a trailblazer and a giant of a man and loved by all in our community. He fought for social justice at every turn as well as health equity and human rights throughout his lifetime.  May he rest in peace,” added Davis.


Condessa Curley, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, Secretary of AHF’s Board of Directors and an Area Medical Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, offered the following similarly heartfelt remembrance and tribute:


“Searching for a church home in Los Angeles, a friend invited me to attend First AME Church in the mid 1980s. After attending the three 8:00 AM services and listening to the powerful voice and the content of his message of, ‘First to Serve,’ I knew I had found my church home. As a health care professional who chose to work in our community, Rev. Murray’s messages and vision of a church without walls open to all, struct a cord with me that continues to this very day. He was not only inspirational, a true leader and visionary, his call to action each Sunday was that ‘Faith Without Work is Dead.’  For many of us who worked closely with him behind the scenes in our advocacy for civil rights, healthcare reform, HIV/AIDS, and sought his counsel, we grew our faith in both times of troubling waters and abundance.  His profound understanding of the disparities in health and health care, and the stigma and discrimination (internally and externally) associated with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in communities of color always inspired advocating for doing the right thing no matter how controversial it may have been. For example, after the formation of the FAME Healthcare Professionals, our health fairs at the church included supporting the use of and distribution of condoms, sex education as well as blood pressure and preventive health screenings while working collaboratively with local vendors/and academic health care institutions starting in the mid to late 1980s.  Project Africa, a medical and humanitarian missions’ organization, began its root at FAME.  As the first Chief Medical Officer for Project Africa. Rev. Murray’s support was unwavering. When seeking counsel on a problem, or in need of a resource, his humility and ability to cut to the chase was always  met with an initial greeting of , ‘Daughter how can I serve,’  As HIV/AIDS ravished our communities here in Los Angeles, nationally and in Africa, the call to action to stand up for people infected with HIV—no matter what their gender or sexual orientation—was met with, ‘we are all  a Child of God.’   Pastor Murray’s meeting with AHF President Michael Weinstein and myself in 2009 or 2010 vowing to support our mission to end HIV left a lasting and unforgettable impression on both Michael and me. Pastor Murray was our renaissance pastor.  A man who planted a mustard seed of love, forgiveness, passion to embrace all where they are, and the courage to stand up for what is right no matter how challenging it maybe.  In one of his sermons he stated, ‘he was going to wear out not rust out.’ Rev. Murray you have set the bar for us all.  We may have physically lost a giant, but that mustard seed you planted continues to grow in all who engaged you. We love you and offer condolences in this time of both sadness and celebration of an exemplary life well lived.”


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