Funeral services for Queen Mother Sylvia Marion Parousia Pauline Jordan Purcell, 94, the founding and titular bishop of the Philippines-based Faith Restoration Inc., headquartered in Jersey City, N.J., will be held Friday, Dec. 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Christ Community United Church Center, the Palace Cathedral, located at 4140 Broadway at 175th Street in Washington Heights. Jordan transitioned on Nov. 23 at Park Gardens Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in the Bronx.
A viewing will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12 at San Juan Funeral Home, located at 317 Central Ave., corner of Menahan Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A final viewing will occur Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at the mortuary, followed by a procession at 10 a.m. to her internment at the Evergreens Cemetery, located at 1629 Bushwick Ave. between Jamaica Avenue and Cooper Street in Brooklyn.
The title of “Senior Queen Mother of the African-American Community” was bestowed upon her by the iconic freedom fighter Queen Mother Audley Moore before her passing in Harlem in 1996. On May 22, 1999, Jordan was ceremoniously elevated as Senior Grand Candace Queen Mother Abbess of the Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church of North and South America Diaspora.
She was a spiritual leader of several other religious and secular groups, including the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. She was also a member of the Ethiopian World Federation Inc., an international organization incorporated in New York in 1937 by prominent Harlemites under the auspices of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. She was chaplain of the Society of Old Brooklynites and a member of the Lily of the Valley Chapter No. 16 of the Order of the Eastern Star.
Jordan was a highly visible figure and prayer leader at many community events, including the annual Tribute to the Ancestors at Coney Island, Dance Africa at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the International African Arts Festival, where she celebrated her birthday each year. She served several years as grand marshal of the Harlem Mother’s Day Parade, in which she participated for more than a decade. She also marched each year in the veterans’ Memorial Day and the African-American Day parades.
In spite of the blindness that overcame her later in life, she never shirked what she considered her duty—answering every call of members of the community and people who she loved so dearly. A lifetime commissioned major in the National Chaplains Association, she served as an Army chaplain during World War II. She was also a U.S. merchant marine, serving in the Army and Naval Transport Services.
A lover of drums, drumming and drummers, she was the anointed queen mother of the Prospect Park and the Marcus Garvey Park drummers’ circles. She was a member of the Committee to Honor Black Heroes, Afrikan Unity of Harlem, the Essie Davis Memorial Scholarship Fund and the 204 W. 121st Street Tenants Association and was an avid supporter of the Black Panther Party, the United African Movement, the Federation of Black Cowboys, the Black Veterans Administration and numerous other organizations.
She participated in protest movements and demonstrations spanning decades, from the Scottsboro Boys trial in the 1930s to the Civil Rights Movement, the historic March on Washington in the 1960s, the many demonstrations in the city against injustices and racial profiling, including the Amadou Diallo protests, and Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park in 2011.
Jordan touched the lives of tens of thousands of people and recruited scores into the service of God throughout the world. In 1998, she ordained Winnie Mandela as a minister of the gospel in South Africa. Among her celebrity godchildren were actor Wesley Snipes, the late Isaac Hayes and New York City icon the late Sonny Abubadika Carson.
Her personal motto, which she adopted as a child, was “Service to humanity is service to God.”
She was born in Brooklyn on July 3, 1919, to the late Preston Emanuel Jordan, a Brooklyn real estate broker and businessman, and Ursula Antoinette Cox Jordan, both naturalized U.S. citizens who immigrated from Barbados. She recently recalled childhood memories of her family’s involvement in the Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded by Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
“My parents, aunts and uncles owned several businesses and were very active Garveyites. They instilled the principles of Garvey in me as a young child. I remember watching the UNIA parade on Seventh Avenue sitting on my father’s shoulders,” she said during a recent interview.
On their website, organizers of the Native American Elders Gatherings at the Sunray Peace Village in Vermont described Jordan, who they honored as grandmother of the annual event: “A powerhouse preacher that weaves together all the extraordinary spiritual traditions she carries with mind-spiraling eloquence, fierce insight and wild humor that are so infectious. She often has people howling with laughter one moment and moved to tears the next. This ageless wonder truly awakens awe in all who watch her arrive.”
Jordan, who described her mission as “interdenominational, interracial and international,” held the title of Most Mother of Israel in the U.S. headquarters of the Cherubim and Seraphim Holy Order of Nigeria, located in Brooklyn. She was Clan Mother White Feather of the Ohatchee Cherokee Nation of New York and Alabama; a member of the Blackfeet Tribal Council; spiritual Queen Mother Nana Yaa Odo Boafo Asantiewaa of the Ashanti, as well as Nana NKum for the village of Assinkurua, both based in Ghana; and chaplain general of the Jamaican United National Association. She considered Jamaica as one of her homes.
In Brooklyn, she was assistant bishop of Paradise Baptist Church, a trustee of New Hope Missionary Baptist, elder spiritual Queen Mother for the Council of Women of Proverbs 8 and founder of Eureka of Love, House of the Good Shepherd Gift of God Mission of Arts, Culture and Crafts. She was also Universal Queen Mother of the Creator’s Educational Crusade.
Readers interested in updated information about funeral arrangements should search “Queen Mother Sylvia Jordan” on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sylvia.jordan.3551.