top of page

Obituary of Apostle Leroy H. Cannady, Sr.


Shortly after World War I, Leroy Henry Cannady, was born to Benjamin Howard and Crescie Ann Smith-Cannady on May 27, 1922. On May 13th at 10:36 p.m. the family witnessed the Spirt of God move into the room with us as the angel escorted God’s faithful servant to his place of rest. Apostle Cannady was the oldest of five siblings: Arthur, Lincoln, Annie, and Ben-Clement all of which preceded him in death. The family lived on a large acreage of farmland 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 songbirds and the sweet aroma of wildflowers. One could hear the lowing of cattle, the cooing of morning doves, and the sounds of a variety of fowls and other animals.....Life on the farm made me feel glad to be alive...we had plenty of open space, and almost everything a lad could wish for. There is a proverb 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, in order to take care of the chores, since it was customary to give a child a job as soon as he or she was old enough to work, either in the field or in the house.”

Apostle Cannady became a member of the Manassas Chapel Baptist Church in Franklinton, North Carolina while still in grade school. At the age of ten years old (1932) he 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 mourners or sinners seeking salvation). He confessed that his life was profoundly changed by this experience because he was totally sincere in repentance. As he began working out his soul salvation when he turned twelve (12), he became the Sunday School Superintendent at Hawkins Chapel, very similar to Jesus when He went to be about His Father’s business at that same age. However, in 1934, he heard the Gospel of Jesus being preached by the late Bishop Henry Chauncey Brooks and was baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ and received the gift of the Holy Ghost shortly thereafter. He graduated from G.C. Hawley High School in Creedmoor, North Carolina, April 1943.


"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil." (Proverbs 31:10-11) Apostle Cannady found that virtuous woman. He married Virginia Ree Parker on December 10, 1944. To this loving and committed union eight children were born: Delphine, Vivian, LeRoy, Jr., (who preceded him in death), Shirley, James, Gregory, Phyllis, and Michael. As a dutiful wife, Mother Cannady supported her husband in his pastoral capacity in nearly every position imaginable! She also remained his biggest supporter during his thirty (30) years tenure as Presiding Bishop of The Way of the Cross Church of Christ, International. She served as his traveling partner to countless out-of-town trips, and wherever his assignment led him. Her constant words of encouragement convinced him that he could do ANYTHING he set his mind to do! The respect and love between Mother Cannady and Bishop remained planted in unity throughout life's struggles. They enjoyed and celebrated nearly sixty-four (64) years of marriage without ever having an argument. The Lord called Mother Cannady into eternal rest on Tuesday, April 29, 2008, surrounded by her family.

Apostle Cannady was faithful to the Ransom Way of the Cross Church of Christ under the pastorship of the late Bishop John Luke Brooks, in Franklinton, North Carolina from 1944-1956. He was ordained a Deacon in 1949. During a surprise announcement from his pastor, he was called upon to preach his first sermon during a Tuesday night service. His text was taken from Matthew 1:21, "She shall bring forth a Son and thou shall call his name Jesus". He accepted the call to ministry in 1950. He continued to heed the voice of the Lord and became an ordained Elder in 1952.


It is impossible for Apostle Cannady to be referred to as being slothful, lazy, or pessimistic. As a child, his parents instilled in him their work-ethics that always began before sunrise and continued until sunset! Being a part of the Cannady family, we learned, "Your ice is just as cold as anyone else's ice"; therefore, excuses were inexcusable. He worked diligently at various enterprises such as farming large acreage, cutting pulpwood, and managing his own trucking business which included hauling tobacco from North Carolina to Georgia, but nothing proved lucrative. He confessed that it was impossible to keep money in his possession because God had seemingly installed invisible holes in his pockets.

“One incident finally ‘broke the camel's back’. As a rule, when my mother went shopping, I drove the car. One day, during the Christmas season of 1955, I took my mother to Henderson, North Carolina to do her shopping, and my wife went along as well. When we arrived in Henderson, I did not have enough money for the five-cent parking meter. While my mother and my wife were shopping, I sat in the car alone, praying and thinking things over. By this time, I felt God would not let me prosper until I did what He wanted me to do. I made up my mind that day not to resist God any longer. Just as an eagle stirs its nest, when we returned home, I told my wife what God had laid on my heart and that I had to leave the comforts of home. Like Peter, I had finally decided to take a gigantic step and A Leap of Faith!”


Upon this epiphany, Apostle Cannady relocated to Baltimore, Maryland in early January 1956 (his wife and their five children remained with his wife’s parents in Wilton, North Carolina). With the belief buried inside his heart that "The Lord will make to make a way somehow" he sought a better life for his family. He often spoke about an angel who stood by his bedside and sang this song to him. While living with his brother, Lincoln, he diligently combed the streets of Baltimore looking for employment. You may have heard him state, "I wore out a brand-new pair of shoes looking for a job".

After becoming weary of roaming from church-to-church, he enthusiastically opened the doors to 1352 Calhoun Street in early 1957. Unfortunately, due to the lack of financial support, the doors of this mission were abruptly closed. Determined not to be defeated, he continued with his pursuit of a creditable job. Believing that a "Quitter Never Wins and a Winner Never Quits", he continued looking for work until he was gainfully employed by the Bethlehem Steel Company. As God would have it, his wife and four (4) of their five (5) children were reunited as a family and relocated to Baltimore, Maryland with him. With a renewed vision and encouragement from his supportive wife, the inception of the Refuge Way of the Cross Church of Christ finally came to fruition.

“On the second Sunday in June 1958, I took another Leap of Faith and the doors of the church at 1406 Laurens Street were opened officially. In prayer I asked God to send in some people to worship, not just to necessarily join the church, but for "company sake". That Sunday, the Lord blessed us with thirteen (13) new members and enough to fill almost every seat. These included my wife, Virginia, four of my children, Ben and Rosa Cannady, Lincoln, his wife Meta Cannady, and four of their children. Lincoln read the scripture that day from the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. By 1961, our place of worship was too small to accommodate the congregation, a fact that the Lord showed me during a Communion Service. After passing the communion plate throughout the congregation, there remained only one piece of bread on the plate, and that piece was for me. We probably had seating space for seventy-five people when the Lord instructed me that it was time to move.The asking price for the North Carey Street property was $30,000; yet the Lord was in so many words saying, "Don't worry about the price". We invited Bishop H.C. Brooks to come to the Opening Service and he was amazed. He was the speaker for the occasion, and I can still remember his text, "If God is with him, leave him alone, or you will find yourself fighting against God"! From June 1962 until the end of 1969, we never missed a payment, and we were never late. What a record! God surely had to be in the plan. (This facility had a seating capacity of five hundred). After our move to 1442 North Carey Street, the church grew so fast that after seven (7) 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 for His guidance regarding the matter of finding a new church home. Seemingly, the answer came right out of heaven, for it was not very long before we received a letter from the City of Baltimore saying they needed our building for the construction of a public-school building. Much to our amazement, the City offered to pay $30,000 for the property, the same amount we paid for it. On February 4, 1970 at 12:00 noon, our Leap of Faith caused Deacon Isaiah Barber, Minister Marion Holly, Jr., and I to sign the settlement paper for Old York Road. What a happy day for the Refuge Family! We were blessed to move into our newly purchased sanctuary on Sunday, February 15, 1970. After moving in, we began to familiarize ourselves with the new church building and settled down to do the work of the Lord. We were in a new community, so we wanted to add new souls to the church. Year after year, Refuge continued to flourish in membership, ministry, and wholesome community involvements. Back in 1958, when I had been walking the streets, I tried to borrow from people in Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Raleigh, North Carolina. Nobody would lend me enough money to pay off my debts, so I looked up to heaven and made a promise to God Almighty. I told Him that if He would bless me naturally and spiritually, I would never fail Him and I would never forget how it feels to be down, and that I would always minister to those who need help. Since that time, the Lord has blessed me to give vast amounts of money to people who need help, both the saved and unsaved; and because the Lord blessed me during my years of struggle. I have not forgotten my vow to bless others.”


In 1968 Apostle Cannady began having the amazing opportunity to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ on air: WBMD, WANN, WSID, WBGR, and WGRO Radio Stations. These broadcasts continued for approximately 30 years, many thanks to Missionary Mary E. Rice and Judge Claudia Barber for assisting him for many of those years. The Refuge Way of the Cross Church of Christ was the "place to be" during the 70's, 80's, and 90's. With all the strict foundational teachings we were taught, if any young person was seen doing (or saying) things that were questionable, we were quickly reprimanded. Bishop would caution us and proudly say, "These people knows me". That meant, "I need you to act right"! Good music ran throughout the fabric of the Refuge ministry and during many weekends, churches in the surrounding areas would join us in high praises! These “Saturday Joy Night Services” extended often past midnight, and the Spirit of the Lord saturated our hungry souls! Dismissals were offered to a group of sweaty, tired, but energized young people as we heard the words "Peace Be Multiplied".

Apostle Cannady was consecrated to the office of a Bishop in The Way of the Cross Church of Christ, International (1970), served as Diocesan Bishop for South Carolina, Georgia and Texas (1970-1979), Vice Presiding Bishop (1982-1985), and gallantly held the office of Presiding Bishop (1985-2015). During his thirty (30) year tenure as Presiding Prelate, he was instrumental in writing and publishing The Way of the Cross Church of Christ Disciple Manual. Approximately 106 churches (which includes foreign missions in Africa, India and Haiti) were added to the organization under his leadership. In the year 2015 Apostle Cannady yielded the Presiding Prelate Position to Bishop Alphonzo D Brooks. Immediately upon taking office, it was Bishop Brooks’ heart’s desire to see Bishop Cannady become elevated to the Office of Apostle. On August 5, 2016 while attending the 72nd Holy Convocation of The Way of the Cross Church of Christ, International in Columbia, South Carolina, he was consecrated to this Office as an Apostle by Apostle Floyd E. Nelson and Apostle Franklin Cornelius Showell.


"And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit" (1 John 5:18). Filled with a heart capable to love again, Apostle Cannady married Evangelist Florence Reed on July 17, 2019. As his help meet, she inspired him to continue to preach the unadulterated Word of God and accompanied him on his preaching engagements. She believed and proclaimed that "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty"! As the result of a brief illness, she transitioned on January 29, 2020. Her children are Shontell Reed-Hatcher and Chautee’ Reed.


After being the Founder and Pastor of the Refuge Way of the Cross Church of Christ for nearly sixty-four (64) years, Apostle Leroy H. Cannady relinquished his duty as Pastor over to Bishop Troy A. Barnett on July 16, 2016. The Presiding Bishop of The Way of the Cross Church of Christ, International, Bishop Alphonzo D. Brooks, delivered the Pastoral Installation Message at this historical event. Remaining in the gracious act of humility, Apostle Cannady dutifully honored Bishop Barnett as leader and Pastor of the Refuge Way of the Cross Church of Christ, Incorporated. Although other locations were sought out for the expansion of Refuge, the Lord commissioned Apostle Cannady to remain in the community and add onto the existing building at the current location. Bishop Barnett has been pastoring for seven (7) years and he has consistently honored the commission God gave Apostle Cannady years ago.

Many souls have come through the red doors of Refuge (the ark of safety) to be baptized and to be saved. Without the capable help of Mother Shirley A. Johnson, our “Church Historian” we would not be able to note that Refuge exceeded 2,492 souls since its inception. Mother Johnson has been a faithful member for 64 years and she continues to perform exceptional secretarial duties to this very day.

Apostle Leroy Cannady’s preaching has led many souls to the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Apostle’s Doctrine. He produced many sons and daughters in the gospel, however there are simply too many to numerate. Some of his spiritual children of are: Scripturally Sound Holiness Church (Elder Walter Whitaker); The Church of the Redeemed of the Lord (Dr. Jerome Stokes); Calvary Temple (Bishop Thomas Outlen); Burning Light Way of the Cross Church of Christ (the late Elder Leroy Cannon); Didasko Ministry (Bishop Barry McDonald); Zion Way of the Cross Church of Christ (Bishop Larry R Whitfield, Sr.), and The Carpenter's House Baltimore, Inc. (Bishop Melvin M. Easley, Jr.).

Apostle Cannady was instrumental in establishing two churches in Salisbury, Maryland pastored by the late Elder Harry Jones and the late Bishop James Shaw. He was also instrumental in helping to establish two churches Charlotte, North Carolina which are: Cornerstone Way of the Cross Church of Christ (District Elder Moses McKever) and Shiloh Temple (Bishop Darrell J. Hairston). Apostle Cannady assisted in obtaining the building for New Ransom Temple in Greensboro, North Carolina (Bishop Wilbert Williams) as well as a mission in New Bern, North Carolina. (If we have omitted any church or pastor, please accept our apology).


"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth". (III John 1:4). Apostle Cannady is survived by his family who will honorably continue his legacy: To the union of Apostle and Mother Cannady, eight children were born: Mother Delphine C. Easley (Baltimore, MD); Sister Vivian C. Person (Deacon John Person of Baltimore, MD & NC); First Lady Shirley J. Whitfield (Bishop Larry R. Whitfield of Bear, DE) Brother James W. Cannady (Sister Deborah of Richmond, VA); Trustee Gregory A. Cannady (Missionary Juanita of Baltimore, MD); Sister Phyllis R. Cannady (Baltimore, MD), and Trustee Michael A. Cannady (Sister Darlene of Baltimore, MD); twenty-three (23) grandchildren, forty-two (42) great grandchildren, and sixteen (16) great-great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and relatives. His godchildren included: Milton Johnson Jr., Tamara Hundley, Meghan Holly, Stephen Brown and First Lady Julia Jones.

Apostle Cannady loved the saints. Each person was called “daughter” or “son”; thus, this list doesn’t stop here as there are a plethora of saints he always received as his sons and daughters in Christ for he was loved by so many.


"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord henceforth; Yea, said the Spirit, that they may rest from their labor; and their works do follow them". (Revelation 14:13). Apostle Cannady was a precious gift that God shared with his family and the world for years. We are indebted to carry on his amazing legacy with the examples he has taught us. Until we meet again...

Life is but a stopping place

A pause in what's to be.

A resting place along the road

To sweet eternity.

We all have different journeys

Different paths along the way.

We were all meant to learn some things,

But never meant to stay.

Our destination is a place.

Far greater than we know.

For some the journey's quick

For some the journey's slow.

And when the journey finally ends,

We will claim a great reward.

And find an everlasting peace.

Together with the Lord.

(Author unknown)


bottom of page