Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, a leading New Thought minister, was born in 1956, and is married to Rickie Byars Beckwith, also a New Thought leader. Together they have four children and six grandchildren. Dr Beckwith was the founder, in 1986, of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, a section of Los Angeles, California. The Center now has a congregation of 10,000 as well as numerous outreach ministries providing support for the homeless, the incarcerated, and youth at risk.
In 1996, Beckwith co-founded the Association for Global Thought, an umbrella organization for all New Thought denominations. New Thought, a nontrinitarian Christian philosophy, was born 150 years ago as a response to the mainstream Christian dogma of that time. It’s also known as the mind-cure movement. Since 1997 the Association has sponsored “A Season for Nonviolence,” a 64 day awareness campaign promoting peace using nonviolent action. Yearly, this campaign spans from January 30 to April 4 marking the memorial anniversaries of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.
Dr Beckwith grew up a Methodist but left his religion early at the age of 16. In his early 20s he attended Morehouse College because Martin Luther King was its most famous graduate. He transferred to the University of Southern California and graduated, in 1985, from Ernest Holmes College School of Ministry.
As a young man, in southern California, Beckwith was arrested for possession of drugs. While incarcerated, he turned to mystical readings. Fortunately he was released without being charged. Nonetheless the experience prompted him to vow to make a spiritually purposeful life for himself.
After graduating from ministerial school he applied as senior minister for a spiritual community in Orange County. The interviewing panel did not feel that community would accept an African American leader, so Dr Beckwith went on to found his own church, the Agape Center.
A prolific writer, Beckwith has authored eight books, produced three movies, and co-authored 120 songs (with his wife). Dr Beckwith’s notoriety climbed through the production of the very successful film The Secret (2006). His tomes include Spirit Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul’s Potential, The Answer is You, Inspirations of the Heart, and most recently, Life Visioning. He has also been a regular guest of the Oprah Winfrey and Larry King television programs. His weekly Friday afternoon radio program on the Los Angeles station, KPFK, is hugely popular.
Dr. Beckwith’s humanitarian efforts have attracted numerous awards including the 1999 Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Compassion and Justice, the 2001 Gandhi-King-Ikeda Award from Morehouse College; the 2004 Africa Achievement Peace Award; the 2006 Black Aids Institute Hero Award; and in 2009, the Ebony Magazine’s 150 Award. In 1999 he was inducted in into the Assembly of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.