Dr. Gertrude Stacks is John Witherspoon’s sister. Stacks is the senior pastor of Shalom Fellowship International, a pentecostal church in Detroit, Michigan. On October 30, Witherspoon, best remembered for his role in the movie “Friday” and the sitcom “The Wayans Brothers,” passed away at the age of 77.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Stacks Was One of John Witherspoon’s 11 Siblings
Stacks was born in Detroit as Gertrude Weatherspoon, her actor brother changed his name to “Witherspoon” later in life. The pair have nine other siblings. They include songwriter, William Weatherspoon, who wrote the Jimmy Ruffin classic, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” William Weatherspoon passed away in July 2005 after suffering from a heart attack. At the time of his death, William Weatherspoon had been focused on gospel music. Their other sibling, Cato, was a director on Detroit’s PBS network.
2. Stacks Became a Born-Again Christian at the Age of 25
On her official website, it says that Stacks was “born to the late Prophet Cato, II and Tennesee Weatherspoon.” On that page, Stacks says that she became a born-again Christian at the age of 25. The bio says that Stacks, “received spiritual gifts and many impartations through the hands of God’s anointed vessel and Mother in Zion; the late Dr. Estella Boyd.” The profile goes on to say that Stacks has the gifts of “the word of wisdom, knowledge, healing, deliverance, prophecy, and discerning of spirits.”
Stacks has an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from A.L. Hardy Theological Academy as well as a Doctor of Divinity degree from the same school.
3. Witherspoon Described His Sister as ‘the Most Religious Person’ He Had Ever Met in a 2008 Stand-Up Routine
Witherspoon spoke about his sister during a stand-up comedy routine in his 2008 show, “You Got to Coordinate.” Witherspoon said that his sister had tried to scare him into going to church. Witherspoon went on to describe his sister as the most religious person he had ever met.
Witherspoon said that their grandmother’s funeral, who had lived to be 100 years of age, Stacks had “been rolling back and forth on the floor crying.”
4. Stacks Took Over as Leader of the Shalom Temple Ministries Following the Death of Her Husband, Bishop Jesse T. Stacks
Stacks was married to Bishop Jesse T. Stacks. Upon his death in 2001, Stacks took on the role of leader of the Shalom Temple Ministries. The church has campuses in Detroit, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as well as in Chicago. In addition to leading sermons, Stacks also runs the Spiritual Clinic where she deals with character building as well as parishioners who suffer from substance abuse. Among the more prominent members of Stacks’ congregation was writer Sibyl Collins Wilson, who sadly passed away following a battle with cancer in 2019.
Bishop Stacks had established the church in June 1976 alongside his wife and other followers who had broken away from the Zion Congregation Church of God in Christ. The new church was originally named the Zion Temple Congregational Church. Bishop Stacks decided to change the name to the Shalom Temple following a trip to Jerusalem.
5. Stacks Says That Her ‘Ressurection From the Dead’ 25 Years Ago Brought ‘Her a Greater Love for the Lord’
The bio concludes with the line, “[Stacks’] resurrection from the dead in Harrisburg, PA over twenty years ago has given her a greater love for the Lord and determination to go through whatever it takes to finish her destiny and to meet Him face-to-face.”
Three days before the death of her brother, Stacks celebrated her 75th birthday with a celebration dinner in Birmingham, Alabama. That event also celebrated Stacks’ 50 years of being a born-again Christian.