Influential Detroit pastor the Rev. Charles Gilchrist Adams dies at age 86

RELIGIONS NEWS AGENCY (REDNA) – Influential longtime Detroit pastor the Rev. Charles Gilchrist Adams has died following an illness. He was 86.

Adams died Wednesday following a bout with pneumonia, his sister, Edith Clifton, told The Detroit News on Thursday.

Adams spent a half-century as pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church before retiring in 2019. He had since served as pastor emeritus.

Adams used the church’s standing and resources to spur economic development on the city’s northwest side.

Adams was born in Detroit, attended Fisk University in Tennessee and graduated from the University of Michigan and Harvard University. From 1962-1969, he was pastor of Concord Baptist Church in Boston, before being appointed pastor at Hartford Memorial.

The family of civil rights icon the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired Adams to realize the importance of real estate development, he once said.

From 2007-2012, Adams held the position of Nickerson professor of the Practice of Ethics and Ministry at Harvard Divinity School.

Adams also was twice cited by Ebony Magazine as one of the nation’s 15 greatest Black preachers and one of the top 100 most influential Black Americans.

He was a former member of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP’s executive board and served as the civil rights organization’s president in 1984.


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