Feb. 3, 2024 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A community activist whose ministry focuses on urban men was recognized as the 2024 GIANT Among Giants during an awards ceremony tonight.
The Rev. Jerry Bishop founded LifeQuest Urban Outreach in 1998. The ministry works with 1,100 adult and young men monthly, involving them in programs such as Night Quest, Saving Our Sons, and BROTHER-2-BROTHER weekly worship.
LifeQuest’s headquarters, in the former Oakdale Christian Elementary building, serves as a hub for multiple congregations of different faiths to hold their services. It also serves as a small business incubator and is the new site of the Gerald Dawkins Academy, a charter school that Bishop and LifeQuest opened for the 2023-24 school year.
Bishop’s ministry encompasses his activism as he strives to make Grand Rapids safer for all residents. After presiding over 21 funerals for people who died from the coronavirus, he joined other area faith leaders on Kent County’s COVID-19 church task force in 2020. A summer of gun violence that same year prompted him to organize a community prayer event for residents and the Grand Rapids Police Department.
Bishop, a founding board member of Abney Academy, published “Transforming Urban Lives” in 2002. He received the. H.C. Toliver Religious Life Award at the 2004 GIANT Awards.
“There isn’t a place that Pastor Bishop is afraid to go to spread the Gospel,” said Tempy Mann, chair of the 41st GIANT Awards. “His compassion toward often-overlooked segments of our community is inspiring. He has made a difference in countless lives.”
The GIANT Awards, which Grand Rapids Community College has hosted since 1983, recognize members of the African American community for their contributions to shaping the history, culture and quality of life in the Grand Rapids area. Each award is named after someone who has demonstrated excellence and serves as a perpetual memorial to those contributions.
Awards were given in 11 other categories during tonight’s ceremony and banquet:
- Valissa Armstead, senior director of diversity and inclusion at Corewell Health – the Raymond Tardy Community Service Award.
- Debra Bates, owner and administrator for Choice Business Systems Inc. and owner of MeMe’s Foundation Boutique – the Milo Brown Business Award.
- George Bayard III, artist, owner of Bayard Gallery of Fine African American Art & Books, and executive director of the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives – Ethel Coe Humanities Award.
- Tasha Blackmon, president and CEO of Cherry Health – the Eugene Browning Medical Service Award.
- Jimmy Carter, former head coach for East Kentwood High School’s girls basketball team – Walter Coe Public Service Award.
- Jamie Gordon, executive director of human resources for Kentwood Public Schools – the Phyllis Scott Activist Award.
- Kristian Grant, the first African American woman to represent Grand Rapids in the state House – William Glenn Trailblazer Award.
- The Rev. Charles Hudson III, president and CEO of C.H. Hudson Outreach Ministries – the H.C. Toliver Religious Life Award.
- Latesha Lipscomb, JD, director of engagement and relationships at Amplify GR – Floyd Skinner Justice Award.
- Inez Smith, retired teacher – Hattie Beverly Education Award.
- Bobby Springer, director of GEAR UP at Grand Valley State University – the W.W. Plummer Humanitarian Award.
Proceeds from the event support the Milo M. Brown Memorial and the Junior GIANT scholarships, named for awards founders Cedric Ward and Patricia Pulliam. Kyle Greer and McKenzye Sterk, both Nursing students at GRCC, received Milo M. Brown Memorial scholarships. Cedric Ward Leadership scholarships went to Grand Rapids Christian High School student Caebre Baty and Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy student Nas Brooks. The Dr. Patricia Pulliam College Leadership Scholarship, was awarded to Rallah Cobbins, an architecture student at Western Michigan University.