Visiting preacher recalls famous cousin, Lou Rawls

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Bishop E.L. Ray makes a point as he preaches at the Ramada Inn on Monday. Listening, right, is Dr. Tirazah Ray.

By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com Bishop E. L. Ray preached in Newnan on Monday -- offering words of empowerment and hope with an encouraging smile. Ray, who has homes in California and in Douglasville, preached to a small group at the Ramada Inn on Herring Road. He will be returning to minister there on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Prayer, salvation, prosperity and deliverance are all part of Ray's ministry. His focus is on sharing the gospel message and its power to change lives. Ray can, however, pause to talk about his famous cousin, Lou Rawls. The acclaimed soul, jazz and blues singer was Ray's second cousin. Ray explained the connection is through his mother's family. Though Rawls -- who died in 2006 -- is remembered today for his soul and blues success, he started out in gospel music. "Lou Rawls used to sing with Sam Cooke of the Soul Stirrers," Ray recalled. Cooke and Rawls sang together for about 10 years. Cooke crossed over to popular music first. Cooke was fatally shot by a Los Angeles hotel manager in 1964. His daughter, Simone Cooke, has been involved in Ray's ministry over the years. "Simone Cooke used to travel and work with me. She used to be my organ player," Ray said. Ray has musical gifts himself. "I'm a singer. I play the organ and piano. I sing gospel," he said. "I was not as close to him as my father and my family were," Ray said of Rawls. "I stayed on the go like he did." Ray remembered that Rawls "lived in Las Vegas for many, many years." Rawls was a success musically and financially and raised a lot of money for the United Negro College Fund. Ray described Rawls as "a great man of God." Rawls "sang for TBN for many years before he died," the pastor remembered. Ray hails from Victorville, Calif., -- a town which once had a museum dedicated to the memorabilia of western film stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. When he was 18 years old --49 years ago -- he felt God's call to preach. Ray went to Bible college in California. "For the last 20 years, I've been doing revivals," Ray said. When he was about 35, Ray said, God gave him a new ministry of prophecy. "Many have been blessed and delivered by the power of God," he said. Standing behind a podium on a table with a pink hotel tablecloth on it, Ray encouraged those gathered on Monday to respond to God's blessings. A small bouquet with flowers and a bottle of anointing oil rested on the table. "We have a church we are opening in Carrollton. Some of the members suggested I come to Newnan," Ray said -- explaining the plans for the local event, billed as Prophetic Revival. Ray leads 10 churches -- two each in Georgia, Alabama, California and Texas and one each in Illinois and Arizona. "I spend much of my time traveling -- revivals -- coast-to-coast from Florida to California," Ray said. "I work according to the Spirit of the Lord."


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