Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II
June 1, 1935
|Died||July 28, 2009 (aged 74)|
|Spouse(s)||Eula M. Dent|
Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, better known as Reverend Ike (June 1, 1935 – July 28, 2009), was an American minister and evangelist based in New York City. He was known for the slogan "You can't lose with the stuff I use!" His preaching is considered a form of prosperity theology.
Life and career
Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II was born in Ridgeland, South Carolina to parents from the Netherlands Antilles, and was of African and Indo (Dutch-Indonesian) descent. He began his career as a teenage preacher and became assistant pastor at Bible Way Church in Ridgeland, South Carolina. After serving a stint in the Air Force as a Chaplain Service Specialist (a non-commissioned officer assigned to assist commissioned Air Force chaplains), he founded, successively, the United Church of Jesus Christ for All People in Beaufort, South Carolina, the United Christian Evangelistic Association in Boston, Massachusetts, his main corporate entity, and the Christ Community United Church in New York City.
Known popularly as "Reverend Ike," his ministry reached its peak in the mid 1970s, when his weekly radio sermons were carried by hundreds of stations across the United States. He was famous for his "Blessing Plan" – radio listeners sent him money and in return he blessed them. He said doing this would make radio listeners who did it more prosperous. He was criticised for his overt interest in financial remuneration.
"This is the do-it-yourself church," he would say tossing aside the Apostle Paul and channeling Ayn Rand. "The only savior in this philosophy is God in you."
When it came to the worship of Mammon, Rev. Ike was as transparent as they come. "It is the lack of money that is the root of all evil," he used to say. "The best thing you can do for the poor is not to be one of them." Decades ahead of Oprah Winfrey and the author of "The Secret" in the mainstreaming of greed as a middle-class virtue, Rev. Ike's theology was indistinguishable from the fever dream of the most unrepentant capitalist: "Forget about the pie-in-the-sky; get yours here and now."
Rev.Ike bought the Loew's 175th Street Theatre movie palace in the Washington Heights neighborhood for over half a million dollars, renamed it the "Palace Cathedral" – although colloquially it was known as "Reverend Ike's Prayer Tower" – and had it fully restored. Restorations included the seven-story high, twin chamber Robert Morton organ. The "Miracle Star of Faith", visible from the George Washington Bridge, tops the building’s cupola. In 2016, the building was designated as a landmark by the New York City Landmark Commission.
Rev. Ike was also the "chancellor" of the United Church Schools, including the Science of Living Institute and Seminary (which awarded him, his wife, and his son Doctor of the Science of Living degrees); the Business of Living Institute (home of Thinkonomics); and other educational projects.
In Pop Culture
At night he (John Lennon) loved to channel-surf, and he would pick up phrases from all the shows. One time, he was watching Reverend Ike, a famous black evangelist, who was saying, "Let me tell you guys, it doesn't matter, it's whatever gets you through the night." John loved it and said, "I've got to write it down or I'll forget it." He always kept a pad and pen by the bed. That was the beginning of Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.
Family and death
Ike and his wife, Eula M. Dent, had one son, Xavier Eikerenkoetter. Reverend Ike died in Los Angeles at age 74 on July 28, 2009, after having not fully recovered from a stroke in 2007. His son gave a moving eulogy at his father's memorial service comparing his father to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X – as a "spiritual activist" and a liberator of minds. Xavier subsequently took over the church.
- Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (July 29, 2009). "Reverend Ike, Who Preached Riches, Dies at 74". The New York Times.
- Science of Living Online.
- Norman, Tony (August 4, 2009). "The wretched, venal life of Rev. Ike". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
...in the 1970s. His sermons from the pulpit of the United Church Science of Living Institute in New York could be heard on 1,770 radio and television stations across the country. An estimated 2.5 million people tuned in every week
- "United Church: 'The Palace Cathedral'" in New York City Organ Project New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
- "United Palace Cathedral Gets Landmark Approval, Despite Church Opposition". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on 2017-04-07. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
- Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits. Billboard Books. p. 288. ISBN 0-8230-8291-1.
- "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night by John Lennon (featuring Elton John)". songfacts.com. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- giftofmoney (2010-02-04), Bishop Xavier: "Rev. Ike was a liberator of minds!", retrieved 2017-04-06
- Associated Press "Reverend Ike, Preacher of Material Prosperity, Dies at 74", Huffington Post, July 30, 2009; retrieved December 26, 2011.