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Pastor recalled for helping others

Pernice died of complications from COVID-19 on Feb. 14

WARREN — The Warren area had come to know Apostle Loretta Pernice for her work to help others facing challenges and addictions through the Elim Christian Center in Warren and Total Deliverance and Pathway Sober House.

Pernice died Feb. 14 in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph Warren Hospital following complications from a recent battle with COVID-19. She was 62.

The Rev. T. Anthony Bronner, presiding bishop and chancellor of Turning the World Upside Down Covenant Fellowship Inc. extended his sympathies and condolences to the family of Pernice.

“Pastor Pernice played an instrumental role in the developing of lives in the Warren and Ashtabula churches. She personified the relatable evangelist and the every person’s pastor,” Bronner said in a statement.

Pernice, who was a Warren native, was the senior pastor and founder of Elim Christian Center in Warren. She rededicated her life to Christ in 1997 while incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.

In 1999, Pernice saw the need of people who were struggling with addictions and abuse. She created the ministry called Total Deliverance, in which everyone was welcome to participate — not just the substance abuser, but also the ones who suffer with depression, self-destruction, low self-esteem and other internal issues.

In January 1999, through the ministry of Total Deliverance was born Pathway Sober House, an outreach ministry offering substance abuse and recovery and sobriety maintenance as well as transitional housing for those needing additional help. She founded it with her husband, David.

In March 2000, Pernice was elevated to pastor and founded and pastored Elim Christian Fellowship at that time, now named Elim Christian Center.

Bronner confirmed Pernice as she was given the mantle of apostleship in recent years, having served as minister, pastor, spiritual mother, prophet, teacher and preacher.

Pernice also offered training through “School of Wisdom” that ranged from “Riding in the Second Chariot” to “Laboring in the Harvest.”

Pernice received numerous awards and recognitions for her service to the community, such as the Outstanding Community Service award from the A. Philip Randolph Institute, was a 2000 Hall of Fame inductee from the African American Achievers Association and was honored as a 2009 Community Star by the Trumbull County Red Cross and the Tribune Chronicle.

In 2005, a proclamation was given that May 8 be appointed as Loretta Pernice Day in the city of Warren by then-Mayor Michael J. O’Brien.

In August 2008, Pernice founded the Elim Christian Center in Ashtabula.

Matthew Brown of Marietta, Georgia, executive bishop with Turning the World Upside Down, said Pernice was a loving wife, mother, preacher, singer, intercessor and prolific teacher who “advocated for the nontraditional church member and would give her all to ensure the success and sustainability of her beloved community. … We felt it was prudent to convey our public witness and appreciation for such a valiant leader in Christian ministry.”

“She was a dynamic woman of God who cared,” said Pastor Vince Peterson of Providence Baptist Church in Akron.

Peterson said Pernice had the ability to speak directly to people facing issues in their lives having herself overcome issues.

“She was invaluable and could relate to people. When I met her, I found her to be very sincere,” Peterson said.

He said when Pernice started her programs more than 20 years ago, crack cocaine was well on its way to becoming an epidemic.

“She was very dedicated in helping others during a time when the magnitude of crack cocaine had grown and was impacting many people,” Peterson said.

Former Warren resident Kelvin Parks, 56, said Pernice literally saved his life 16 years ago.

“I had been to two to three rehab centers by the time I went to Pathway Sober House and had not gotten anything from them,” Parks said. “She provided the tools I needed to be covered in the blood of Jesus. Her counseling took me away from the street and drug addiction.

“If I continued living in that life, I may not be alive today,” Parks, now a Columbus resident, said.

Pastor Aruthenia Simmons, an assistant pastor at Elim Christian Center, was with Pernice when Pathway Sober House was founded and plans to continue its legacy into the future.

“Pathway works with all types of people, not just people experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs,” Simmons said. “We also help people with financial and housing problems.”

Pathway helps those who need help for only a few days to those needing assistance for more than a year.

“Pathway started as a program that helped women, but expanded,” Simmons said. “The goal was to help people get back into society. We loved the ones that no one else wanted to love.”

Pastor Joseph Walker described Pernice as having the ability to see the best in people and bringing it out of them.

“It was not just those suffering with addictions,” he said. “It was with everyone. She understood people and recognized when they were honestly seeking to turn their lives around and those that were playing games.”

Turning Fellowship officials said they wanted to honor the life, ministry and legacy of “a tremendous Christian leader whose voice was a trumpet advocating for the marginalized, whose heart was the size of her community and whose incalculable contributions to her pastoral assignment will forever be memorialized.”

Calling hours will take place 9 until 9:50 a.m. today at Elim Christian Center, 3214 Ridge Road, Warren. A Going Home celebration honoring Pernice will begin at 10 a.m. today with Bronner as celebrant.

Burial will follow in Pineview Memorial Park in Warren.

Memorial contributions may be made, in Apostle’s name, to Pathway Sober House, 2970 Parkman Road NW, Warren, OH 44485.

Reporter Raymond L. Smith contributed to this report.

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