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Our Founder

The Honorable Rev. Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick is the organizer and Senior Pastor of Praises of Zion “Praise City” Baptist Church in Los Angeles, CA. Through the grace of God he has pastored Praise City for over 60 years. Dr. Hardwick is also the current President of the Western Baptist State Convention of California, Inc. which is comprised of over 200 churches.


In an effort to reconstruct and stimulate South Los Angeles following the 1965-Watts Riot, Dr. Hardwick founded the Personal Involvement Center in 1971. In 1987, Dr. Hardwick was first elected as President of the Western Baptist State Convention and was re-elected as president in 1995. As President of Western Baptist State Convention, Dr. Hardwick has helped to bring vision, integrity, and stewardship commitment to the Western Baptist State Convention. As part of the leadership team, he introduced the Western Baptist State Convention Scholarship Program, solidified the work of the district association, organized the Prison ministry, created a no-cost Life Insurance program for families, and implemented food-drive programs.


With a deep desire to promote, nourish, develop and enhance the welfare of others, Dr. Hardwick has received many honors and achievements such as Director of Children’s Work for the State of California, recipient of the Humanitarian Award from the City of Los Angeles, “Keys” to the City, inductee for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall of Preachers, helped organize the Los Angeles Martin Luther King Jr. parade, board member for the development of Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital in Los Angeles and Life Membership to the NAACP, Chairman for the Unity Ecumenical Program, Chairman of the Metropolitan Interfaith Coalition of Southern California, ACC Pauline Award, Oxford’s “Who’s Who”, Pastor of the year 1968 and 1995, and over 100 various other awards and commendations.