Bishop Frank Summerfield, founder and senior pastor of one of Southeast Raleigh’s most prominent churches, has died. He was 67.
His passing Sunday was announced on the website of Word of God Fellowship at 3000 Rock Quarry Road, where he had been a pastor for 22 years. The website did not report a cause of death.
Summerfield, a native of Newark, N.J., had lived in Raleigh for more than 40 years, according to the church’s website.
In addition to being the church’s founder, the tall, affable clergyman also helped establish on the church grounds a daycare center and the Word of God Academy, which is best-known for producing basketball players. They include former N.C. State University standout C.J. Leslie and former University of Kentucky basketball player John Wall, the top-rated point guard in the high school class of 2009 and now an all-NBA star with the Washington Wizards.
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Summerfield was described on the church website as “a devoted husband, father, bishop, friend, mentor and great community leader.”
Summerfield also was determined. In 2006, Word of God was one of 25 schools that the NCAA refused to accept transcripts from in its crackdown of “diploma mills,” according to a 2008 story by ESPN.com. Summerfield upped the GPA requirement for athletes from a recommended 2.0 to a 2.4.
“This mandate will help John in the long run,” Summerfield said at the time. “He’s already smart, but he didn’t know what he could do until now. The thing that impresses me the most about him is his humility.”
Summerfield graduated from Kansas Wesleyan University before going on to earn a master’s degree from Montclair State College and a doctorate degree from the Universal Life Church. He was also the recipient of a number of honorary degrees from other colleges and universities, according to his church’s website.
He was consecrated as a bishop from the Christian Faith Center in Creedmoor.
Along with his work in the ministry, Summerfield taught at Shaw and Campbell universities.
He is survived by his wife and co-pastor, Lady JoeNell Summerfield, and their four children, Frank Jr., Mitchell, Joshua and Valisha.
A celebration of his life will take place Sunday at 10 a.m. at Word of God Fellowship Church. A second celebration is scheduled for Monday between 9 and 11 a.m., followed by funeral services at Wake Chapel Church, 3805 Tarheel Club Road in Raleigh.
The family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Summerfield Ministries or Word of God Christian Academy.
Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald