Evangelist and civil rights leader Reverend Clay Evans founded the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois in 1958 and was the founding national board chairman of Operation PUSH (People
Evangelist and civil rights leader Reverend Clay Evans founded the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois in 1958 and was the founding national board chairman of Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity, later changed to People United to Serve Humanity) in 1971.
Rev. Clay Evans was born in Brownsville, Tennessee on June 23, 1925. After graduating from Carver High School, Evans attended seminary school at the Chicago Baptist Institute and later at the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the University of Chicago Divinity School. In 1950 he was ordained a Baptist minister and eight years later founded the Fellowship Baptist Church (or “The Ship”). His popular sermons were broadcast on radio and television, generating his fame throughout the Midwest and into the South.
In 1965, Rev. Evans joined Rev. Jesse Jackson to promote the civil rights movement then emerging in Chicago. In 1971 they founded Operation PUSH, which encouraged black self-help. Between 1971 and 1976, Rev. Evans served as chairman of the organization and currently serves as its chairman emeritus.
Rev. Evans is also the founding president of the Broadcast Ministers Alliance of Chicago, organized in 1975 by a group of leading pastors who sponsored weekly radio and television broadcasts. The group is socially active in the areas of healthcare, voter registration, and religious protection. In 1990 Rev. Evans released the first of a series of successful gospel and inspirational recordings. His 1995 recording I’ve Got a Testimony earned him the Stellar Gospel Music Award for Album of the Year in 1996.
In 2000, Rev. Evans retired as pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church after 42 years as its principal minister. Upon his retirement he was honored by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin during a formal ceremony in the U.S. Senate.
His most famous mantra was “It is not 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. This mighty man passed from labor to reward on today. We love him forever! Details and Arrangements are forthcoming.
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