Born in Panama in 1953, Bernard came to New York at the age of four with his mother and they settled in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. He was part of the 1960s desegregation movement in the public school system being bussed to school in Ridgewood, Queens and then attended Grover Cleveland High School. In order to help his mother in their single parent household, Bernard worked after school in the garment district pushing garment racks for $2.00 per hour. In his senior year, he left the garment district for a job at Bankers Trust Company. Beginning as a clerk in the Consumer Lending Division he earned a number of promotions leading to Operations Specialist in the Consumer Lending Division.
Establishment of Church
Prior to becoming a Christian, Bernard was a Black Muslim. Bernard left the banking world to answer his calling to full time ministry in 1979. Starting with a Bible Study group in a kitchen, he and his wife Karen took their savings and rented a small storefront in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. As his ministry grew, so did the need for a larger facility. In 1979, Household of Faith Ministries was incorporated with Bernard as its president and CEO. In 1988 the ministry purchased an abandoned supermarket in Brownsville and renovated it into a 1000 seat sanctuary complete with ministry offices and a bookstore. Christian Life Center became its new name and the ministry moved into its new property in June 1989 with 625 members.
The ministry was quickly outgrowing its home on Linden Blvd. With four services at capacity, and overflow rooms full, the need for a larger facility was evident. In 1995 a vacant lot adjacent to Starrett City was purchased and soon after, construction began. On December 31, 2000, under the leadership of Bernard, Christian Cultural Center took its new name and moved into its new home. The 6.5-acre (26,000 m2) sanctuary and conference center also includes a café, bookstore and restaurant. A new paradigm in houses of worship, Christian Cultural Center is one of the largest independent churches in the tri-state area. A.R. Bernard remains a highly sought after speaker, teacher and community leader. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States, the Caribbean Islands and to the continents of Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe addressing religious organizations, businessmen and political dignitaries.
Future expansion and development is anticipated on a 4.5-acre (18,000 m2) of land adjacent to the current facility, which was recently purchased by the ministry.
A.R. Bernard Broadcasts
Bernard is the host of two weekly television broadcasts. Faith In Practice and A.R. Bernard – airing nationally on TBN, TV One, and FamilyNet Television. The programs also air in New York on WWOR and WRNN. Bernard’s radio broadcasts can be heard nationwide on Salem Communication stations, on FamilyNet Radio SIRIUS Channel 161, and locally within New York’s tri-state area on WMCA, WLIB and WBLS.
All members understand that the purpose of the local church is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the development, preservation and expression of the life of God in the believer, through instruction and opportunities for service. Members belong on the basis of corporate fellowship, and mutual trust between one another. That trust, which is the basis for all relationships, is a core value of this organization.