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Isaac Graham: Longtime pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church was a counselor to many

The Rev. Isaac Graham, pastor of Macedonia Baptist

The Rev. Isaac Graham, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church of Harlem, grew up on Long Island. Credit: Walter Williams

As pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church of Harlem, the Rev. Isaac Graham was quick with a joke but even faster to offer a word of encouragement.

“He would have you laughing and encourage you at the same time,” said his niece, Connie Duncan, of Wheatley Heights. “He had an unwavering spirit and such a commitment to his church and the Lord.”

Graham, who lived in Harlem but grew up on Long Island, died on March 22 at 67. His wife, Cheryl Graham, said the cause was coronavirus, exacerbated by diabetes.

His sudden death was a devastating loss to his parishioners, whom he had led for more than 40 years. Graham served as a “counselor to many,” Duncan said. He ordained eight ministers and more than 35 deacons, as well as authored more than 25 books on church matters.

Graham was a well-known figure in ministry, serving as a financial secretary and treasurer of the Empire State Missionary Baptist Convention and a moderator of the United Baptist Association. One of his mentees was Alleyne Hall, an associate minister at Macedonia Baptist Church. She describes the late pastor as “big on training,” holding countless leadership classes and workshops.

“He was a great leader, who was very caring about his congregation,” said Hall, who lives in the Bronx. “He was always wanting to be spiritually prepared and ready to serve God.”

A native of South Carolina, Graham moved with his family to Long Island in 1964. He graduated from West Babylon Senior High School, later receiving his associate degree in psychology from Long Island University.

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After being ordained as a pastor from Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Amityville in 1975, he attended American Baptist College in Nashville, where he graduated cum laude with bachelor of arts and bachelor of theology degrees.

Graham was appointed to Macedonia Baptist Church in 1979, just one year after he and Cheryl, who met at a gospel concert, were married.

“He said the Lord called him to ministry and he was obeying the call of the Lord to become a preacher,” said Cheryl Graham, noting that he was always very conscientious of his family. “He was very loving. It was in his DNA. There was never a day I didn’t hear, ‘I love you.’ ”

In addition to his wife, Graham is survived by two children, Courtni Graham-Tolbert and Demetrius Graham-McQueen, and five grandchildren.

Read more here: Isaac Graham, 67, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church of Harlem, dies

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