The Christian Cultural Center (CCC) — a megachurch in every sense of the word serving a predominantly Black congregation — came from humble beginnings right in North Brooklyn.

Before his vision evolved into a 37,000+ member church sitting on over 11 acres in Starrett City, Brooklyn, Rev. A. R. Bernard started his faith journey by leaving a years-long career in banking behind to start a Bible study with his wife, Karen, in their kitchen in Williamsburg in hopes of serving and unifying the local Black community. Not to be outdone by its North Brooklyn neighbor, Greenpoint is also part of the Christian Cultural Center’s legacy, serving as the home base for the Bernards’ Bible study once it outgrew their home in the 1980s.

Prior to becoming the Christian Cultural Center, the group functioned under the names Household of Faith and then Christian Life Center. As its following grew, including multiple overflow rooms and block-snaking lines starting hours before the first service, Bernard moved the Christian Cultural Center to its current Starrett City campus in 2000, becoming one of the biggest independent churches in the United States.

Bernard, who has been in ministry for 42 years and is considered one of the city’s most influential Black pastors, remains heavily involved in the CCC as its pastor and shows no signs of slowing down. His résumé also includes serving as the president of the Council of Churches of the City of New York, the NYC Economic Development Corporation Board for Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg, founder of the Cultural Arts Academy Charter School and Brooklyn Preparatory School, hosting two weekly television programs, authoring two books, and more.

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