The Rev. Clay Evans, a nationally-known pastor and civil rights advocate, passed away on Nov. 27, at the age of 94. The founder of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, he was a leading voice in the civil rights movement for 50 years as well as a trailblazer in evangelical broadcasting and American gospel music.
He supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work in Chicago; he co-founded Operation PUSH, one of the nation’s pioneering civil rights organizations, with the 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.
Evans preached in Los Angeles many times during his ministry and formed close friendships with several ministers including retired AME Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Sr., who hosted Evans and his choir in the 1990s when Kirkland was pastor of Brookins Community AME Church in L.A.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Evans is scheduled to lie in state at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church from noon to 7 p.m, on Dec. 6, with a celebration of his life to follow, and that a visitation is scheduled on Dec. 7, from 9 to 10 a.m., with another celebration to follow.
In response to his passing, Jackson lamented, “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.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot noted, “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.”
Judge Greg Mathis said, “#RIP Rev. Clay Evans. He was a dynamic civil rights leader, preacher, and gospel music icon. Rest well Rev. Evans. Job well done.”