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Rev. Clay Evans (1925–2019), civil rights leader and gospel legend

Rev. Clay Evans (1925–2019), civil rights leader and gospel legend

by Stephen Segal

Rev. Clay Evans was the founder of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, where for 50 years he was a leading voice in the civil rights movement, evangelical broadcasting, and American gospel music. He supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work in Chicago; he cofounded Operation PUSH, one of the nation’s pioneering civil rights organizations, with Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom he ordained at Fellowship in 1968; and he released eleven albums of gospel music, including “I’ve Got a Testimony,” which was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award in 1997.

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Died: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 (Who else died on November 27?)


Details of death: Died at the age of 94.

Memorial services: The Chicago Sun-Times reports Rev. Evans is scheduled to lie in state at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church from noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 6, with a celebration of his life to follow, and that a visitation is scheduled from 9 to 10 a.m. Dec. 7, with another celebration to follow.

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What they said about him: “My heart is so very heavy. Rest in heavenly peace to our dear Rev. Clay Evans. Please pray for the Evans, Jackson and @fellowshipchi families.” —Rev. Jesse Jackson

“Over the course of his incredible, five-decade career leading the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Evans tirelessly sought to uplift the lives of his parishioners and fellow residents through service and support.” —Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot

“#RIP Rev. Clay Evans. He was a dynamic civil rights leader, preacher, and gospel music icon. Rest well Rev. Evans. Job well done.” —Judge Greg Mathis

“Reverend Clay Evans was a prophet, a priest, and a pastor to both parishioners and pastors. His death—in the same week as that of Father George Clements, who was also an inspirational icon and tireless servent—has left us all with another unimaginable loss.” —U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush

“Rev. Clay Evans was a religious & civil rights leader who called for the best in our humanity. When he spoke, his voice was heard in Chicago & echoed across America, & we are a better city & nation for it. My deepest condolences to his family and all those whom he loved & served.” —Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel

Full obituary: Chicago Sun-Times

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