Suffolk Pastor honored for his service to God with street sign ceremony

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2023

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Despite the rainy weather, it was all smiles and joy on Sunday, Jan. 8 as members of Greater Sweet Beulah Apostolic Church and Councilman Leroy Bennett celebrated Emeritus Bishop Dr. Madison G. Copeland with an Adopt-A-Street sign unveiling ceremony.

Following the opening ceremony held by Pastor Elder Keithston E. Ferguson Sr., the sign was enthusiastically revealed and now stands on the church grounds at 137 Maple St.

Born in 1932, Copeland received his preaching license when he was only 15 years old from the late Bishop Samuel L. Grimes in 1947. In 1953, a biography on the church website said Copeland was ordained as elder and in 1994 as district elder in the Virginia State Council of Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Inc (PAW Inc.). Copeland is the original and oldest living member of the organization.

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In 1962, Copeland was appointed as pastor of Greater Sweet Beulah Apostolic Church by Bishop Grimes and has served faithfully for 58 years. In 1999, Copeland gained his position as Suffragan Bishop and was ratified at PAW Inc.’s mid-winter convention held in Saint Louis, Missouri. In 2000, Copeland’s title of Suffragan Bishop was consecrated at the Virginia State Council’s November session in Roanoke, the biography states. Copeland is married to Elect Lady Pauline Penn Copeland. They are parents of two sons, one grandson, and several adopted children.

“I am so proud that the City of Suffolk has let my church adopt the street and put my name there, while I am alive to see it,” Copeland expressed deeply.

“I just thank God that I have my brother here, my only brother. My only sister’s here. My daughter’s here. I got nieces and nephews here from North Carolina, New York, Maryland — all of my family’s here to see me. And I thank God for that.”

Elder Ferguson, who is the succeeding pastor of Greater Sweet Beulah Apostolic Church, explained the importance of celebrating Copeland for his service to God.

“We believe in giving honor where honor is due,” Ferguson said.

Likewise, Councilman Bennett talked about the amount of support that Copeland received during the celebration.

“We have had many, many unveiling of signs, even ribbon cuttings. This is the largest crowd that I’ve seen in any place for this type of occasion,” Bennett said. “It shows you how much Suffolk really, really loves you. You have earned this. I’ve known Bishop for a long time, but everytime I hear him preach or pray, it touches me. It’s something about the way he delivers his word.”

Bennett also spoke about celebrating a person and their while they are still on earth to experience it.

“I believe in giving a person flowers while they can see them,” he said to those attending the ceremony. “I think this is a blessing for you, and to him, to show your appreciation for all that he has done and continues to do.”

Copeland, who is 90 years old, spoke of just how much the world changed since his appointment as pastor in 1962.

“Very tremendous,” Copeland said. “Time has changed, people have changed, so much has gone on. But to God be the glory for the things he has done.”

Copeland told the crowd how he is feeling presently while thanking God for the work he was allowed to do and for the lessons he has learned.

“I’m doing good, and I just thank God for all that he’s done, all that I have accomplished, all that I’ve gone through, every test and every trial,” Copeland said. “I appreciate it all.”