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Rev. E. V. Hill

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The Rev. E.V. Hill, who worked with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and later became the pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, has died. He was 69.

Hill died Feb. 24 in a Los Angeles hospital, where he was admitted Feb. 8 with what an aide said was an aggressive form of pneumonia complicated by other medical conditions.

Born in Texas, Hill lived in a log cabin with his family. He went on to attend Prairie View A & M University and became pastor of Mt. Corinth Missionary Baptist Church in Houston at 21.

While there, he was one of seven black pastors who joined King in forming the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was to become central to the civil rights struggle.

Hill nominated King as president of the conference.

Hill moved to Los Angeles in 1961 to become pastor of Mt. Zion. Eleven years later, Hill was elected as the youngest president of the California State Baptist Convention.

He also served as co-chairman of the Baptist World Alliance and was an associate professor of evangelism for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

In 1971, Hill was one of eight black clergymen whom Graham took to the White House to speak privately with President Nixon, who later had Hill give the inaugural prayer for his second presidential term.

Hill was known for his thunderous sermons and his compassion for the poor. He fought for government programs to bring housing and economic aid to the needy in his community.

He started a program for the hungry called the " Lord ' s Kitchen, " and his church also built senior citizen housing, started a credit union and provided clothing for the poor.

Hill also preached on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and attended Promise Keepers rallies across the country. Promise Keepers, a predominantly white evangelical men ' s ministry, proclaimed that men should become " promise keepers instead of promise breakers. "

Hill was a leader in the National Baptist Convention, the nation ' s largest grouping of black churches, and in 1998 he defended the denomination ' s disgraced president, the Rev. Henry Lyons, who was found guilty of racketeering.

Hill also had stood by televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, both of whom were involved in sex scandals.

Hill is survived by his wife, a son, daughter, three grandsons and a stepson.
Published in U-T San Diego on Mar. 1, 2003
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