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Chicago mourns respected pastor and civil rights leader Clay Evans

Pastors Charles Jenkins (left) and Clay Evans. (Photo courtesy of the Rev. Charles Jenkins)

The Rev. Clay Evans, a beloved civil rights leader, gospel singer and pastor, died on Nov. 27, 2019. He was 94.

The Rev. Charles Jenkins posted news of Evans’ death on his social media platforms. Jenkins, who will be retiring as pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side of Chicago, succeeded Evans in leadership at the church. 

Evans was the founder of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church and pastored there for 50 years. He was a prominent figure in the city of Chicago, a gospel singer whose music inspired and moved the masses.

He was also one of the first members of the clergy to embrace Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights leader’s visits to Chicago almost to the detriment of his church. He also partnered with Jesse Jackson to push the conversation of civil rights forward.

You can read Jenkins‘ full post as it appears on Instagram below:

View this post on Instagram

My Hero Reverend Clay Evans has gone to sleep eternally and is now in the presence of God. Reverend Clay Evans founded Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in 1950 where he served for 50 years. His most famous mantra was “It is no secret what God can do.” We will forever be a beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, family patriarch and church father. He was a leading servant of God, a man of great faith, a servants servant, a leaders, leader, a friend to all of mankind. He will forever be known as a civil rights leader (who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King and Reverend Jesse Jackson), gospel music pioneer, civic leader, community staple, and trusted counselor to all including Presidents, Governors, Mayors, and anyone in need of advice. He was a convener, an ecumenical bridge builder, problem solver, and humanitarian. He will be forever be known throughout the world as The Godfather of ministers, preachers, & pastors everywhere. He took his final breath on earth but his legacy will live on forever through his biological family, his friends, his spiritual family, over 100 spiritual sons and daughters, and millions of people around the world who have been touched by his life and work. His contributions are countless, his awards are innumerable, and his impact is immeasurable. His famous words are those of The Gospel Of John 9:4 “Work while it is day for the night comes when no man can work.” “I don’t want to rust out sitting around, I want to wear out working.” He leaves this world empty, leaving our lives and society full of all of the goodness God gave him to give to us. We love him forever! Details and Arrangements are forthcoming.

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Evans is survived by his wife of more than 70 years, Lutha Mae, four children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A daughter preceded him in death. A family member confirmed that Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church is planning to host visitation and funeral services on Dec. 6 and 7.