The Rev. Elliott James Mason Sr., who became a pillar of the black community as pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home after an extended illness, his family announced. He was 88.
From 1962 to 1985, Mason led the prominent South Los Angeles church as it acquired property and completed the sanctuary. His weekly sermons also were broadcast over KJLH-FM radio, his family said.
In 1977, The Times named Mason one of the area's best clergymen, calling him "an articulate minister who sees his teaching feeding his preaching."
He also was known as "a minister of ministers" whom other pastors reached out to, said his niece, Dale Mason Cochran.
In retirement, Mason founded World Renewal Ministries, a prayer and counseling ministry, with his wife, Geraldine, who was his childhood sweetheart.
Born Jan. 13, 1922, in New Orleans, Mason was giving sermons at age 16, the same year he started studying religion and philosophy at Dillard University.
After earning a bachelor's degree in 1942, he received a bachelor's in divinity two years later from Oberlin College. He spent the next 15 years as pastor of a Toledo, Ohio, Baptist church before joining the Los Angeles church as an assistant pastor in 1959.
He also earned a master of sacred theology degree from Oberlin in 1953 and a doctorate in New Testament theology from USC in 1968.
As a Fulbright scholar, Mason took his wife and four children with him when he studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in the mid-1950s.
In addition to Geraldine, his wife of 65 years, Mason is survived by three sons, Elliott, Wayne and Reginald; a daughter, Wanda Aguola; and seven grandchildren.
A service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Trinity Baptist Church, 2040 W. Jefferson Blvd.