QUINCY — The Rev. E.L. Warren turned 65 last week, but assures there are no retirement plans.
At least on the immediate horizon.
Warren, who has been a pastor in Quincy for 40 years and since 1980 has been behind the pulpit at the Cathedral of Worship, is far too busy to think about stepping down or even back.
“I really don’t sit back and reflect,” Warren said. “I’m busy pushing forward.”
Warren’s accomplishments are legendary, but he simply shakes his head at those offering praise.
“Only by the grace of God have we been able to accomplish what we have,” he said. “God has really blessed us.”
Warren, who has been married to his wife, Ella, for 42 years, does have a game plan, however, regarding the coming years. It’s one that would see him remaining active on all fronts for another decade and then transitioning into retirement over the ensuing five years. That would take him to age 80, but that’s quite a ways down the road, especially for someone as busy and goal-driven as Warren.
Atop Warren’s list of things to do is getting his congregation into its new $2.5 million home on South 36th Street, just down the road from Melrose Chapel United Methodist Church.
Warren said until the COVID-19 pandemic struck there was a good chance the Cathedral of Worship would have been able to be in its new home by the end of the year. Now, some point in 2021 seems more realistic.
“COVID derailed those plans,” Warren said. “We’re still hoping for this year, but ...”
Once completed, the 27.5-acre layout will not only house a new church building, but a Family Life Center and a 27-home subdivision. The new worship center will seat 750 for regular services and 1,500 for conventions. The seating capacity will more than double the church’s current sanctuary at 215 N. 25th.
“We bought the land in 2008 and paid it off in 2010,” Warren said.
Since that time, additional money has been raised for engineering and other developmental costs.
Architechnics has worked with the Cathedral of Worship on this ongoing project, Warren said.
Warren also remains busy as an author, having written eight books and five study/workbooks. The most recent publication is “Building a Better Man,” a study guide for pastors and men’s church groups.
Warren’s most recent book, “The Simplicity of Worship” was released in early 2019 and was Warren’s first manuscript since 2016. The book is now part of at the lesson plan at all 110 Life (Ga.) University campuses.
“The Simplicity of Worship” is Warren’s eighth book since the early 1990s, with his 1996 effort “I’m Saved — Now What?” currently in its fifth printing with sales of more than 20,000. Warren said he expects the “The Simplicity of Worship” to eventually surpass sales of the 1996 book
Warren is chancellor of seven Life University campuses at Illinois sites in Springfield, Bloomington and Quincy, plus two in Milwaukee, Wis., and one apiece in Memphis, Tenn., and Tupelo, Miss.
In addition to his local ministerial duties, Warren also serves as the presiding bishop over the International Network of Affiliate Ministries (INAM), which has churches and outreaches at 45 sites in both the United States and abroad. INAM is part of the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (ICCC), a 6,000-church body spread over six continents and headquartered in Cedartown, Ga.
Warren is heavily involved in education and medicine in Haiti. Warren spearheaded building an elementary school and providing a medical clinic.
“If not for that school, the students that are being helped would be roaming the streets and eating garbage to survive,” Warren said. “We have also built two churches there.”
There are also ongoing projects in Uganda and an orphanage in Kenya.
While Warren has left a global footprint, he has not forgotten his roots in Quincy or the Cathedral of Worship.
“We’re currently limited by (protocols tied to the pandemic), but our goal is to get (the Cathedral of Worship) back to where it was before COVID, and to get into our new building, ideally by the end of 2020 or as early as we can in 2021 depending on the weather,” Warren said.
Most of Warren’s days are busy from dawn or before to dusk or beyond. Many days Warren and fellow “prayer warriors” will drive around Quincy and pray for the city in the wee hours of the morning.
Warren’s impact in Illinois can be felt well beyond Adams County. He was appointed to the Illinois Department of State Police Merit Board in June 2019, an organization that oversees a force of 1,700 troopers statewide. Warren is serving a six-year term through 2025. He is one of five who will make up the board, which screens potential candidates for the force, hands out disciplinary measures such as suspension, demotion and/or discharge and recommends promotions.
Warren had previously served on the Illinois African-American Family Commission (IAAFC), appointed in 2013 by then-Gov. Pat Quinn.
In 2008, Warren was asked to help coordinate the faith-based Emergency Preparedness Initiative that brought the Illinois Department of Public Health together with ministers in minority communities to enhance preparedness against major emergencies. Warren was one of 60 pastors from around the state named by then-Gov. Rod Blagoevich to help coordinate the program.
In 2005-06, Warren was part of the “Coming Together” effort in Quincy that planned multi-denominational gatherings designed to ease racial and religious tensions in the area and “bring Quincy closer as a community.” Blacks, whites and all denominations met at different local churches over a four-night period in a show of unity. Predominantly black and white churches also exchanged pastors for a week.
Quincy has — and will always be — close to Warren’s heart. All that he has accomplished, or helped come to life, has been initiated in Quincy.
And don’t look for that to change.
“We’ll always have our home base here,” Warren said.