Thousands turn out for final good-bye to Rev. John Raphael - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Thousands turn out for final good-bye to Rev. John Raphael

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The body of Rev. John C. Raphael is carried from Mahalia Jackson Theatre for Performing Arts. The body of Rev. John C. Raphael is carried from Mahalia Jackson Theatre for Performing Arts.

New Orleans, La.—Thousands took part in a final good-bye to anti-crime crusader and Pastor John C. Raphael.

An overflow crowd turned out at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts for a special service to remember the man who fought to end violence here and starvation in third world countries.

The Reverend John Raphael died of cancer June 25th at the age of 60. He was pastor at the New Hope Baptist Church in Central City.

"He was a perfect pastor you could go to him for anything," said Kequante Brown, a member of the church.

"I knew him personally, he's been a man that's been in the community for such a long time and he's done some awesome work," said Rev. Albert Stewart, a friend of Raphael's.

Until his death, Rev. Raphael was a tireless warrior in the war on violence in New Orleans.

From his signature "Thou Shalt Not Kill" signs which went up in crime ridden areas, to vigils, and even the extraordinary step of camping out on a neutral ground with anti crime signs, Raphael did what he felt was necessary to end the bloodshed.

He was a former NOPD detective.

"I met him as a police officer and he was a servant then, he was just a different kind of officer," said Debra Booker as she left the funeral.

And when it came to ministering to the impoverished, and victims of crime, the entire city was Raphael's flock.

"He was instrumental when I came back to help me begin to know parts of the city since I had been gone for a while. He was always if you ever needed anything," said Police Supt. Ronal Serpas.

"He talked a lot about the violence on the streets, he helped, he gave funerals for people who couldn't afford them and he was constantly talking to the community about the need to have peace," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

He was known as a preacher whose heart for humanity was global. Raphael established churches in Africa and did humanitarian work in Panama and Haiti.

"He has given all that he had to our community, served, and served well," said Rev. G.S. Washington.

But he also had time to help parent neighborhood kids in Central City.

"He said when you go back to school I will be there, Darnell was so excited when pastor came to his school," recalled Brown, as she discussed how Pastor Raphael helped her son.

"We were childhood friends, real humble person, very well spoken and loved, loved the Lord," said Ralph Caesar, who also attended the church where Raphael was leader until his death.

And from the church he led to people all around the city in the community, there is a commitment to keep Pastor Raphael's anti crime working going.

"Step up to the plate because someone's got to step in their shoes," said the mayor.

Before the funeral community activists and civil rights leaders met at Sixth and Daneel Streets where a 14 year old was murdered on Sunday. They said that Raphael would have been there with them had he been alive to speak out about the crime.

"We realize that Pastor John Raphael would be walking the streets, so we are committed, we have recommitted ourselves to do the same," said Rev. Norwood Thompson.

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