He was 91 and served 72 years in ministry, including ministering as the senior bishop of Evangel Cathedral from 1955 to 1989. Evangel Cathedral is one of the largest churches in the D.C. area.
“He was a patriarch of the faith whose zeal for spiritual unity was an instrumental part of racial reconciliation in the Body of Christ, bringing blacks and whites together under the loving banner of Christ Jesus,” the family said in a statement. “Bishop John had an extraordinary heart for all people that exuded the agape love of our heavenly Father.”
Indeed, Meares is known for being a white pastor of a predominantly black church during the days of segregation. He was affiliated with the Church of God early in his ministry, according to the Washington Post, but was expelled for preaching to a congregation outside of his denomination during a revival.
Formerly known as Evangel Temple and the National Evangelistic Center, Evangel Cathedral was birthed out of Meares’ obedience to God. During the first 10 years of the church, continuous revival broke out, with miracles, healings and salvations.
Meares leased the old Turner’s Arena in Washington, D.C., according to the church’s official history, after the tent revival meetings. From Turner’s Arena, the church moved to an old government warehouse, then to the old York Theater, and finally to a location at 610 Rhode Island. At that time, Meares handed the senior pastoral torch to his son, Don. Evangel Cathedral then moved to its current location in Upper Marlboro, Md.
A wake service will be helped at Evangel Cathedral at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 2. A home going tribute service is scheduled for Friday, June 3 at 11 a.m.