Bishop Robert C. Blakes, Sr., pastor and founder of New Home Ministries, died last week of congestive heart failure. He was 74.
Bishop Blakes, better known as “Prophet,” presided over a congregation that grew to what New Home Ministries called “a family of churches” in the New Orleans area, Baton Rouge, Hammond and Houston.
The crown jewel of the New Home Ministries is the church at 1616 Carondelet, a former synagogue that is full gospel churches, Temple New Home Ministries, headed by Bishop Blake and Broadmoor New Home Ministries, whose pastor is Bishop Blakes’ son, the Rev. Samuel Blakes. Robert C. Blakes, Jr. is pastor of New Home Ministries churches in New Orleans East and Houston.
Bishop Blakes was born in Woodville, Miss., but adopted New Orleans as his home. In 1965, he founded New Home Missionary Baptist Church at 3140 Jackson Avenue. The church, which described itself as “The Little Church With a Lot of Fire,” started with 30 congregants.
After he started his church, Bishop Blakes studied theology at Union Theological Seminary and later at Christian Bible College. In the 1970s Bishop Blakes embraced the full gospel movement that was attracting more and more congregants.
As his church grew under the full gospel banner, Bishop Blakes relocated to 3720 S. Broad Ave. The church moved to the Carondelet Street location in 1984. By 1991, the church’s name was changed to New Home Full Gospel Church, according to Verna Cook, New Home’s administrator and Bishop Blakes’ sister-in-law.
Bishop Blakes’ ministry spanned 48 years in which he influenced many people, said his friend, the Rev. Dale Sanders, pastor of Fifth African Baptist Church. “He was a man who spoke truth to power,” Rev. Sanders said. “He was a man who stood for the people and stood with the people.”
Bishop Blakes began curtailing his ministry in recent months and was in and out of the hospital for his heart.
He is survived by his wife, Lois R. Blakes; two sons, Robert C. Blakes, Jr., and Samuel R. Blakes; six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and a host of family and friends.
At press time, funeral arrangements were incomplete.
This article originally published in the April 15, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.