Friday, November 29, 2019

Rev. Clay Evans R.I.P.

Rev. Clay Evans, civil rights leader, evangelical broadcaster, man of peace and gospel icon, dies at 94

By Maureen O'Donnell and Matthew Hendrickson Updated Nov 27, 2019, 7:20pm CST

The Rev. Clay Evans, founder of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, in 2000. Chicago Sun-Times file photo

The Rev. Clay Evans, a civil rights leader, influential evangelical broadcaster and gospel music icon, died Wednesday at 94.

His death was announced by Rev. Charles Jenkins, pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, the house of worship Rev. Evans founded after being ordained a minister in 1950. He served the church for half a century.

“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,” Jenkins said in a Facebook post.

Rev. Evans was “responsible for launching the ministerial careers of ninety-three people, including Mother Consuella York, the first female to be ordained in the Baptist denomination in Chicago,” according to the website of the church at 4543 S. Princeton Ave.

In 1968 at his church, Rev. Evans ordained the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“Today we stand in the wake of his life and his legacy ... and express our thanks to him,” Jackson said at a news conference Wednesday. “There is a hole where our hearts used to be.”

Working with Jackson, the pastor helped form Operation PUSH, the HistoryMakers websitesaid.

In some of the most heated days of the civil rights movement, Rev. Evans defied Mayor Richard J. Daley in welcoming the Rev. Martin Luther King to Chicago.

“When Dr. King decided to use Chicago as a northern expansion of the civil rights movement, Rev. Clay Evans had to endure some political fallout” for his support, said funeral director Spencer Leak Sr. “The word had gone out [from City Hall] that ministers should not invite Dr. King to their churches.”

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