As Remembered by Will Byrd
It was 1989 and I was visiting Phoenix for a conference at a Charismatic Church out in Glendale. I had heard of Casa de Cristo and on Sunday evening I decided to try to find it and go to church there. As soon as I walked through the door, it felt like home. Their pianist, Ed de la Garza, was working that evening, so they were going to be singing a capella. I play the piano and I offered to play; as my new friend Maria instructed me "we sing in the key of L" (for lesbian). When I heard Fred preach that night I was stunned and deeply moved by the genuineness and conviction in his preaching. My experiences with "ministries" in the LGBT community was that so many of them are egocentric, building kingdoms for themselves .. "ALL ABOUT ME" .. and yet, Fred was utterly genuine and it showed. I remember saying to him as a group of us went to eat after church "You REALLY mean this, don't you?". It was a life changing experience for me. Over the years, I visited Casa de Cristo a number of times, and attended TEN weekends when they were held at the church. It was like the gathering of family, and for sure Fred was the "Dad". I will always be grateful for Fred, and his inspiration in helping us start a church in San Francisco; Freedom In Christ. Fred was such an important part of the founding of that place, and one of the graduates from the Bible School that Fred founded at Casa de Cristo (Phoenix Evangelical Bible Institute) has served as the pastor at FIC for a number of years. My friend who I have loved since we met; Maria Caruana (the one who sings in the key of L) has been a beautiful example of what it means to be a true pastor, and I know she would agree that the training she received under Fred's skilled teaching, has been most valuable in her own ministry. Blessed peace and fullness of joy to you dear Fred, as you live in the fullness of Eternal glory. You will always hold an especially fond place in my heart!!
July 18, 2012