“On May 27, 1922, shortly after World War I, I, Leroy H. Cannady, Sr., was born to Benjamin Howard and Crescie Ann Smith Cannady on the family farm about five miles from Franklinton, North Carolina. The North Carolina countryside was a lovely place to grow up, for the air was filled with beautiful melodies of song birds and the sweet aroma of wildflowers. Soft breezes constantly rustled through the trees, causing the leaves to clap their hands in praises to the very God who made them. One could often hear the lowing of the cattle, the cooing of the mourning doves, and the sounds of a variety of fowls and other animals.
“All in all, life on the farm made me feel glad to be alive. There is a parable that older people taught us early in life: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise”. I went to bed early and got up early every day to take care of the chores. It was customary to give a child a job as soon as he/she was old enough to work, either in the field or around the house.
“I became a member of the Manassas Chapel Baptist Church in Franklinton while still in grade school. At the age of ten years old (1932), I went to the Mourner’s Bench and was converted. The Mourner’s Bench was a special seat in the front of the church that was set apart for the mourners or penitent sinners seeking salvation. My life was truly changed by this experience,
for I was totally sincere. After being converted, I was baptized in water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
“Sometime in 1934… I heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached by Elder Chauncey Brooks at The Way of the Cross Church in Franklinton. This church was subsequently named the Ransom Way of the Cross Church of Christ. Although, I was only twelve years old, he captured my attention as he walked the floor preaching so hard that perspiration dripped from his clothing. My entire family accepted his teachings and received Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives. My mother, father, my brothers: Arthur, Lincoln, Clement, and my sister Annie, were all baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. As an example of our faith, most of us received the Holy Ghost shortly thereafter. In the Fall of 1936 (Age 11), my father bought a 208-acre farm, and we moved to Granville County, North Carolina, which was located about four-and-a-half miles west of Franklinton. In 1939, Daddy stopped us from going to Ransom because it was just too far to walk. “In 1943 (Age 21), men were being called by the thousands to serve in the Armed Forces. To avoid the draft, I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland where I became an employee of Bethlehem Steel. I did not like city life, for I felt like it was evil and dangerous. So, after having worked about eighteen months, I returned to North Carolina. There on December 10, 1944, I married Virginia Parker and settled down and made myself content.
“In August of 1945 (Age 23), my family was overjoyed to hear that revival was being held by Elder Chauncey Brooks at the Ransom Way of the Cross Church. So, stirred by the Apostolic message, the entire family decided to reestablish our fellowship there. We felt we were back where we belonged.
“Not long after I returned to Ransom, God began to plant the desire to preach within my spirit, but I ignored it. I did not want to hear anything about preaching, for I wanted to make money! I was faithful to the church in 1949 (Age 27), and I was ordained a deacon. One day in 1950, Pastor John Luke Brooks told me to come to church the next night because he had a surprise for me. During the service, he called me and Deacon Julius Person to the pulpit to preach that night. My first text was taken from Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS…”.
“I knew the Lord loved me because His mercy was upon me daily. He chastised me for not obeying his command to go and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, yet like a mother, He held me in His arms when I needed to be comforted. It took twelve years before I became so dissatisfied that I was about ready to say, “Not my will, Lord, but your will be done”. In December 1955 (Age 33), I made up my mind not to resist God any longer. Just as an eagle stirs her nest, I told my wife what God laid on my heart and that I had finally decided to take a gigantic step and make the “Leap of Faith”! I left the comforts of home, my wife and five children, and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. In life, I have discovered the hardest battle you will ever fight is with yourself. YOU can be your worst enemy. I learned that if you conquer yourself, everything else is a big bluff. Once I surrendered to God and stopped worrying about myself, the rest was easy.
“When the new year arrived in 1958 (Age 36), I had grown tired of roaming from place to place and decided to open a church. After looking around in late January or early February,
I found what seemed to be a suitable and affordable place at 1352 North Calhoun Street. Along with my brother, Lincoln, I rented some chairs for those who might visit. He and his wife,
Meta, fellowshipped with me on the first day. Due to lack of financial support, I was unable to keep the doors open, which caused me to be back where I started.
“As the Lord would have it, in late May 1958, I found a place that I thought would be conducive to worship. On the second Sunday in June 1958, I took another “Leap of Faith” and the doors at 1406 Laurens Street were officially opened. That Sunday the Lord blessed us with thirteen members: My wife, four of our children (Vivian, Leroy, Jr., Shirley, and James), my brother, Ben Clement and his wife, Rosa, my brother Lincoln and his wife, Meta, and their five children (Lincoln Jr., Bernard, Charlotte, Christine, and Earl). Deacon Lincoln read the scripture that day from the thirteen chapter of I Corinthians. “ Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”.
“By 1961 (Age 39), our place of worship was too small to accommodate the congregation. Our second location was at 1442 North Carey Street. When we moved to this location, our mortgage payments were $225 a month, a dramatic increase from the $75 rental fee we were accustomed to paying. After our move to Carey Street, the church grew and after seven years, we longed for a facility that would accommodate Sunday school classes, prayer meetings, and other church functions. Our entire church began to go before the Lord in daily prayer and fasting, asking the Lord for guidance regarding the matter of finding a new church home. Seemingly, the answer come right out of heaven, for it was not very long before we received a letter from the City of Baltimore saying that they needed our building for the construction of a public-school building. Much to our amazement, the City offered to pay $30,000. The same amount we paid for the property.
“When it came to getting money for the Carey Street property, we had “mountains to climb and valleys to cross”, for our name was near the bottom of the settlement list. However, we kept
on praying. Much work and many hours of negotiations were needed to obtain the Carey street property and Elder Theodore Barber was a key factor in bringing the process to a successful
conclusion. The realtor for the Old York property told us there was no need to even talk about buying if we did not have $40,000. Once again, Elder Barber put his extraordinary negotiating
skills to work and within a few days we had the $30,000 check. With that amount, along with the $10,000 we had in the bank, we hurried to the realtor and began to negotiate for the Old York Road property. On February 4, 1970, at 12 noon, Deacon Isaiah Barber, Elder Marion Holly, Jr., and I signed the settlement papers for 4301 Old York Road. What a happy day for the Refuge Family. Below is a list of accomplishments the Lord has blessed Refuge to obtain since that time:
Leroy H. Cannady, Sr. was consecrated to the Bishopric in August 1970 (Age 48), by The Way of the Cross Church of Christ, International. After assisting two other Presiding Bishops: Bishop John
Luke Brooks and Bishop Harry Clay Eggleston, Bishop Cannady was promoted to the office of Presiding Bishop in August 1986 (Age 64). He was the recipient of the Apostolic World Christian Fellowship Torch in 2007 (Age 85). He was referred to as an “Apostolic Father” by his fellow clergymen and was appointed Dean of the Apostolic Ministerial Fellowship in 2010 (Age 88). After thirty years of devoted service, he was consecrated as the first Apostle for The Way of the Cross Church of Christ, International on August 12, 2016 (Age 94) during the Seventy-Second Holy Convocation in Columbia, South Carolina. Most recently on May 3, 2017 (Age 94), Apostle Cannady was awarded the Apostolic Longevity Award by the Apostolic World Christian Fellowship in Evansville, Indiana.
Apostle Cannady was married to Mother Virginia Ree Cannady for sixty-four years. He often confesses it was her encouragement that gave him strength to overcome many of life’s challenges! He is the proud father of eight children: Delphine, Vivian, Leroy, Jr. (deceased), Shirley, James, Gregory, Phyllis, and Michael. He is also the grandfather of twenty-three grandchildren, thirty-six great grandchildren, and nine great-great grandchildren.
On Saturday, July 16, 2016, Apostle Cannady installed District Elder Troy Barnett as Pastor of the Refuge Way of the Cross Church of Christ, Inc. As a result, Apostle Cannady is now referred to as Founder of the Refuge Way of the Church of Christ, Inc. Among all his accomplishments, Apostle Cannady will often say, “The greatest name you can call me is a servant, for I am a servant of God to the people of God”! As a living epistle and the longest living Apostolic Father, all of us present at this momentous occasion have been touched by Apostle Cannady’s wisdom and humility. It is our pleasure to bestow double honor upon this Faith-filled Servant (Age 95)!