Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II was born in Ridgeland, South Carolina, and was of African American and Indo (Dutch-Indonesian) descent. He began his career as a teenage preacher and became assistant pastor at Bible Way Church in Ridgeland, South Carolina. After serving a stint in the Air Force as a Chaplain Service Specialist (a non-commissioned officer assigned to assist commissioned Air Force chaplains), he founded, successively, the United Church of Jesus Christ for All People in Beaufort, South Carolina, the United Christian Evangelistic Association in Boston, Massachusetts (which was his main corporate entity), and the Christ Community United Church in New York City.
Known popularly as “Reverend Ike,” his ministry reached its peak in the mid 1970s, when his weekly radio sermons were carried by hundreds of stations across the United States. He was active on the Internet and in a syndicated television program.
He fully restored and owned the Christ United Church (“Palace Cathedral”) in Manhattan’s Washington Heights section in Harlem, formerly the Loews 175th Street movie theatre. Restorations included the seven-story high, twin chamber Robert Morton organ. The “Miracle Star of Faith,” visible from the George Washington Bridge, tops the building’s cupola. He was also the “chancellor” of the United Church Schools, including the Science of Living Institute and Seminary (which awarded him, his wife, and his son Doctor of the Science of Living degrees); the Business of Living Institute (home of Thinkonomics); and other educational projects.
Ike and his wife, Eula M. Dent, had one son, Xavier Frederick Eikerenkoetter. Upon Ike’s death, his son has taken command of the non-denominational, non-traditional metaphysical church founded by his father.
Ike also made a guest appearance on Hank Williams, Jr.’s single “Mind Your Own Business”, a Number One country music hit in December 1986. This song is Reverend Ike’s only chart single.
John Lennon used a phrase he heard from Reverend Ike, while channel surfing one night, as inspiration to write his song “Whatever Gets You thru the Night”.
Reverend Ike died in Los Angeles at age 74 on July 28, 2009, after having not fully recovered from a stroke in 2007.