SOUTH SACRAMENTO – Many a soul looking for spiritual guidance in South Sacramento found themselves at Destiny Church. It’s senior pastor, Bishop Yardley Wendell Griffin, Sr. seemed destined to lead and equipped with a relentless drive, rose from humble beginnings to become one of the area’s most prominent pastors.

Bishop Griffin went to his glory on July 31 after a long illness. He was 64 years old. Born November 17, 1954 to Rev. J.D. and Sarah Lee Griffin, he was the youngest of six children.

Bishop Griffin accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at an early age and was baptized. 

Griffin was a nationally sought after public speaker in high school and college.  He received his Bachelor of Theology Degree from Pacific Coast Bible College, Doctorate of Divinity from the Mount Zion Institute Seminary and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the Triune Theological Seminary. 

He acknowledged and accepted his call to the ministry in 1974, at the tender age of 19, preaching his first sermon titled ironically, “A Date with Destiny.” In March 1977, he was installed as pastor of the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church, which was founded by his father in 1963. He faithfully served as the senior pastor/lead servant until his passing.

Representing Greater Faith and Destiny Church, which it later became known as, Bishop Griffin had an enormous impact on his local community and the state of California, serving as a member on the Sacramento Urban League Board of Directors, Sacramento City Affirmative Action Board, Sacramento City Unified School District Committee for Drug and Alcohol Abuse, A.G.A.N.G. (A Guard Against Narcotics and Gangs) and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Board of Directors. He was a past president of the Northern District Baptist Congress of Christian Education, the California State Baptist Young Adult Convention, the Sacramento Baptist Ministers Conference, and served as Secretary and Co-Organizer of the United Pastors of Sacramento. 

Bishop Yardley Wendell Griffin, Sr. Has Gone to His Glory

As a pioneer of multi-media outreach, he is the visionary and founder of “Visions of Deliverance” and “Voices of Deliverance,” the radio and television outreach ministry of Destiny Church, founder of the Decapolis Tribune Christian Magazine, as well as the Founder of “Reaching Out,” the radio and television outreach ministry of Progressive Women of Excellence (PWOE) Inc. 

Bishop Griffin joined the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, International and was appointed the State Overseer of Northern California, shortly after he was consecrated to the Office of Bishop and Elevated to the Bishop of Interdenominational Affairs.  

Bishop Griffin was the executive producer of the award-winning CD, “Don’t Stop Praising.” He was also a contributor to “Dear Lord We Pray,” a booklet of prayers published by The Sacramento OBSERVER.  

Said OBSERVER founder Dr. William H. Lee about the passing of Bishop Griffin, “The bells are ringing and angels are singing for the heavenly  arrival of my friend and brother. Our prayers will continue for the family and the earthly warriors of Yardley Griffin.”

Bishop was also consecrated as a class master under the Prophetic Order of Prophet Mar Elijah (P.O.M.E.), and he was installed as an initiate in the Order with full honors.

On July 23, 1972, he was united in holy matrimony to the former Rose Marie Cooper and to this union, nine children were born. He appointed his eldest son Yardley Wendell Griffin, Jr., as his successor and on Sunday, October 3, 2011, ordained him as Destiny Church’s executive pastor. He also ordained his son in love (son in law) Marcell Thomas and licensed his son, Isaac Griffin, and daughter, Vanessa Griffin-Thomas to the Gospel Ministry.

Fellow Black clergy are among those remembering Bishop Griffin. 

“The spiritual tapestry of the African American faith community of Sacramento cannot be reflected upon without mentioning the Bishop,” shared Bishop Parnell Lovelace of Center of Praise Ministries.

“He was a man that was committed to seeing the community transformed by the interface of the church. He was one of the first spiritual leaders of our community to open his doors to address youth violence and economic improvement within the region. He sought to see lives elevated and encouraged,” Bishop Lovelace continued.

Rev. Dr. Ephraim Williams of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church will be among those speaking at Bishop Griffin’s service. Dr. Williams said he knew Bishop Griffin for more than 50 years, having met him when he was “a youngster.” He recalls Bishop Griffin’s skills as an orator and gospel singer, as well as his sense of humor.

“He was a strong, strong Christian man,” Dr. Williams shared.

“He took me as his spiritual guide, his spiritual father. He came and talked to me a number of times down through the years. I will miss him, miss encouraging him,” he continued.

Bishop Griffin was preceded in death by his father and mother, and twin daughters, Elizabeth Grace and Kimberly Marie Griffin. Bishop leaves to celebrate his life, his children, Vanessa (Marcell), Veronica (Ron), Ariam (Anthony), Cherise (Quinten), Yardley Jr. (Brandy), Isaac (Monique), and Christopher (Lisa) all of Sacramento.  He also leaves to celebrate his life, his forever love, Vanessa McGee; 19 grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. He leaves his brothers and sisters, Nathaniel Roche of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jimmy (Eartha), Robert (Diane) of Sacramento, Thomas of Dallas, Texas. Betty Jean of Atlanta, Georgia, and Ruth Mary of Sacramento, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and Destiny Church family. 

By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer

Video by Russell Stiger, Jr.