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2021 Bishop Kwabena Rainey Cheeks Award

Bishop Kwabena Rainey Cheeks

Karl A. Racine Albert Rainier Cheeks (Rainey) as he is known by family and friends was born and raised in Washington DC. He started his training in Traditional Tae Kwan Do at age 14 under Grand Master Ki Whang Kim achieving black belt status in 1968 which began his studies into traditional energy healing, massage, and meditation techniques. He was rated in the top 10 in the United States and was the co-captain on the first US team that competed in the World Championships in Seoul Korea in 1973. There he won silver medal in Team and bronze medal in Individuals. He was then inducted into the Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame in 2007. Mr. Cheeks now serves as the Grand Master of the Ki Kwan Kim Traditional Marshal Arts Association and holds the rank of 9th Degree.

Enter the year 1968 when Dr. King was killed, he became a social justice activist while taking it upon himself to walk women home to get out of danger’s way. This experience led him to a fight for social justice for the rest of his life and for all people of color. In 1975, Rainey served as manager and head of security at the world famous “Clubhouse”. This tenure cultivated and solidified his activism forum until the venue retired in 1990.

He studied Kryia Yoga and was initiated by Swami Hariharanada Giri in 1978. In 1981 he was certified in Energy an Charkra balancing energy techniques. He was ordained in 1982 from the National Spiritual Science Center of Washington D.C. In 1985 he founded Us Helping Us, People into Living a holistic training program in for people living with AIDS. He has presented at three World Health Conferences on HIV on the interconnection of mind- body healing techniques in Amsterdam, Germany, and Japan. In 1988 he was certified as a Grief Counselor from the St. Francis Center in Washington, D.C. In 1993 He founded and opened Inner Light Unity Fellowship Church in Washington, D. C. and in 1999, he was honored with his Doctor of Divinity from The St. Andrews Theological School of London, England and the same year consecrated to the office of Bishop while serving with the Unity Fellowship Church Movement. Bishop Cheeks graduated from The Potomac Massage Institute as a Licensed Massage Therapist in 2010 in continuance of his holistic work.

In 2018, Inner Light Ministries became a member of United Church of Christ. He now servers as Bishop and Spiritual Director at the National Spiritual Science Center in Washington, DC while also sharing his service as Bishop in The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries TFAM under the direction of Bishop Yvette A. Flunder.

(Yao Kwabena) Rainey Cheeks was initiated as an Asomfo Priest of Tegare in the tradition of Ghana, West Africa. He has received numerous awards for community service for his constant work.

He is a retreat team leader with Damien Ministries and is a guest at other retreats around the country. Some of the workshops he facilitates are Visualization, Meditation, Self Esteem development, the Art of Loving Yourself, death and dying and the grief process and Body energy work.

He is a published author and now holds workshops on interpersonal development and meditation for personal growth. He has served on several boards and has been recognized for his work in the liberation of the LGBTQ communities. He has also studied metaphysical principals for many years and has presented and continues to facilitate workshops throughout the United States on holistic health. As a result, he has presented at AIDS Medicine and Miracle, Howard University school of medicine, Brown University student body, George Washington University Hospital, the Mon Valley Aids task force, People for the American Way foundation, the Congressional Black Caucus, Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, and diversity training for the DC Police Department, the Place of worship Advisory Board in Washington D.C., The National Black Religious Summit, and Inner Visions Institute by Iyanla Vansant.

He currently acts as a teacher, preacher, and inspirational speaker and most of all a Child of the Living God still growing from the inside out! He has been living with HIV since 1985 and has been quoted as saying “I have it. It does not have me! As we say at Inner Light “I See the God in You”.

—July 2021

About the Award: The Bishop Kwabena Rainey Cheeks Award, first awarded in 2021, is presented to a faith leader who has provided outstanding spiritual guidance and support to the Black LGBTQ+ DMV community.


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