Called by God

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 9, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Larry Fogan Sr. got more than he expected walking into the News-Herald on Thursday. He thought he was coming in just to bring a church announcement, and instead found himself telling his life story:

&uot;My grandmother carried me to church as a child. Going was hit or miss…nothing concrete. Five years before I became saved, I was attending a Mormon church for six months.

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Before turning himself over to God, Fogan admitted, &uot;my life was a shambles. I’d been through it all. The smoking, the drinking, the womanizing. All the wrong stuff I thought was fun.&uot;

But that stopped after he was called by God about 20 years ago.

&uot;I was saved in 1983. One Sunday as we were in church, I heard a voice say, ‘It’s time to go!’ Nobody else heard this voice. Then I heard it again.

&uot;’Do you love me?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Why don’t you feed my sheep?’ Then I saw a vision of Franklin and surrounding cities united in a ministry. I found out what real joy was…real peace.&uot;

Fogan was 19 then. His wife, Nathelia, was 18.

Together the couple has grown spiritually. Though Fogan doesn’t have a theology degree, he has plenty of

&uot;on-the-job training.&uot;

For 17 years, the couple belonged to Tidewater Bibleway Church in Portsmouth.

&uot;God gave us a call to go back to Franklin [the Fogan’s home]. We ministered there until God moved us here to Suffolk.&uot;

His ministry, which has always been based in downtown, relocated to a new site. The Shekinah Family Worship Center, which bills itself as a &uot;how-to&uot; church, opened at 800 W. Washington St. on March 1.

He explained the church name is Hebrew for &uot;Glory of God,&uot; which he quickly points out comes from II Chronicles 5:13-14. The inspiration for the name came to him, he said, in August 1999 when he was quite sick. As before, he heard a voice telling him the word.

In celebration, the church is hosting a &uot;Gospel Block Party Explosion&uot; from noon to 6 p.m. April 24 at the church. Bring your own chairs because there will be a pig pickin’; live entertainment, including the Bethel Men’s Choir, and the group, ‘Bless’d;’ and several comedians, dancers, and other musical guests.

Prophet William Billups of the Silent Rock Ministry, Hampton, will be the guest pastor. Shekinah strives to give back to the Suffolk community.

&uot;We are focused on giving,&uot; Fogan said. &uot;We do a lot of soup kitchens and feeding of the hungry. We also collect canned good to give to those in need.&uot;

Regular services at Shekinah take place beginning with Sunday school at 10:30 a.m., worship at noon. Bible study is at 7:30 p.m on Wednesdays.

When he’s not pastoring, Fogan works in the lubrication department of International Paper, where he’s been for 31 years. His wife, a former nurse’s aide, is a homemaker.

They have three children, Pauline Ashburn and Larry Fogan Jr., who’s also in the ministry, and Shelton M. Fogan in Ohio.

When he’s not at work or in the pulpit, you’re likely to find Fogan fishing. His eyes light up at the mere word. Saltwater fishing is his favorite. He’s also a loyal fan of the Washington Redskins.

&uot;They hurt you, but I still love them.&uot;