The congregation of a South Los Angeles church visited by Nelson Mandela 23 years ago gathered to remember the late anti-apartheid leader. First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles hosted a special service for the leader, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was among those in attendance. Tena Ezzeddine reports for the NBC4 News at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013.
Admirers paid their respects to late freedom fighter and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela at a special memorial service at a South Los Angeles church Sunday.
The service, dedicated to honoring the life and legacy of Mandela, brought church members who remembered seeing Mandela first visit the First African Methodist Episcopal Church during a trip to Los Angeles in 1990.
Michael Ellison-Lewis, a senior advisor at First A.M.E., said two of Mandela’s grandsons recently visited the church and saw pictures of their grandfather’s visit.
“It was a very, very powerful moment for all of us,” Ellison-Lewis said. "We were able to show them images of when their grandfather visited church. It was at that service they found out their grandfather had been hospitalized."
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke at the service and sang Mandela's praises.
"When he graced us in the City of Angels, he was probably the greatest angel in my lifetime who came here," Garcetti said.
Nearly 2,000 people applauded Mandela's live at Sunday's service.
"He is a figure all of us will applaud and remember for years left to come," said A.M.E. Pastor J. Edgar Boyd.