Bishop mourned at his South Side church

October 28, 2010 10:00:00 PM PDT
Family and friends, including first lady Michelle Obama, remembered the life and legacy of Bishop Arthur Brazier Friday.

Brazier led the Apostolic Church of God for nearly half a century. For many years, he also worked tirelessly as a civil rights activist.

Bishop Brazier passed away October 22.

Hundreds of people lined up around the South Side city block of the church at 6320 S. Dorchester bundled up and shivering in the cold to remember a man President Barack Obama called a leading moral light.

"I came to get in the cold to be here because he was a person who is worth standing in the cold [for]. He loved everybody, no matter who you were. He loved all walks of life. He's been very inspirational to me and my two children," said Patricia Page, who attended the funeral.

Bishop Brazier led members of the Apostolic Church of God for 48 years.

Michelle Obama was in attendance, along with senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett. Both are longtime acquaintances of the revered pastor, who people say made a lasting impression, a man who was never too busy for anyone.

Jarrett spoke for the first family, recalling a touching moment when Bishop Brazier visited President Obama in the Oval Office.

"Pure joy was written all over his face and he paused and in the doorway and savored the moment and with a chuckle he said,' boy, this is really something,'" said Jarrett.

Some local politicians spoke of the significance of having Bishop Brazier's counsel and guidance.

"It was a life of faith, a life of family, a life of vision and a life of purpose," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D).

The tributes for Bishop Brazier spoke of his dignity, perseverance and passion for righteousness.

"Good night, sir, good morning, heaven. Make room for the bishop. We will see you one glad morning. Soon and very soon. It has been my pleasure to serve you," said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"He was so respected and so loved," said Dr. Leon Finney.

Brazier's influence and inspiration touched the well known and those less well known.

"He transformed the community. He transformed your life and my life. We are all better now because of the bishop," said Rev. Clay Evans.

"Any time you called him, he called you back. I remember on numerous occasions I left a message, and he called me within an hour. One time, he called me, and I missed his call. And he left a message saying, 'I will call you back in 30 minutes.' And he called me in 30 minutes," said Sheila Jackson, who attended the funeral.

Brazier was a civil rights activist responsible for bringing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Chicago in 1964. He was a husband of 62 years and father of two children. But his family extended far beyond that, into the Woodlawn community where he founded education programs. He lost his battle with prostate cancer last Friday. He was 89.

"Words can't describe what we lost," said Andre Dotson, who attended the funeral. "He is a jewel to everybody. People say just to the church, but to everybody in the neighborhood, he did for everyone."

The bishop built a congregation of nearly 20,000 members. In 2008, he passed on the church leadership to his son.


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