Gospel music artist, civil rights activist, and Founder of the influential Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois, the Rev. Clay Evans has died on November 27. He was 94 years-old. Evans' death was announced Monday in a social media post by the Rev. Charles Jenkins, who in 2000 succeeded Evans as pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side. Evans led the church for 50 years.
"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.
As a Gospel music singer, Evans released his first musical project in 1984, What He's Done For Me with Savoy Records. His latest album, It's Me Again, was released in 2006 by Meek Records. All-in-all, he has had eleven albums that have charted on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart over the course of his career. He is also "responsible for launching the careers of 93 people, including Mother Consuella York, the first female to be ordained in the Baptist denomination of Chicago," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Evans received a nomination for the Best Gospel Album at the 1997 Soul Train Music Awards.
In 1965, Evans joined the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., to promote the civil rights movement in Chicago. In 1971 they founded the Operation PUSH coalition to encourage black self-help. Evans served as chairman of the organization from 1971 and 1976 and became its chairman emeritus.
Relatives said Rev. Evans is survived by his wife, Lutha Mae; his daughters Gail Claudette Pye and Faith Evans, and sons Michael and Ralph. Another daughter, Diane, died before Rev. Evans.
Jenkins said he is scheduled to lie in state from noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, with a celebration of his life to follow. A visitation is planned from 9 to 10 a.m. Dec. 7, with another celebration to follow.