Celebration of life held for Chicago icon Reverend Clay Evans

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The life of an iconic Chicago pastor and civil rights leader was celebrated Saturday.

The celebration of life and final visitation service for Reverend Clay Evans was held at the Apostolic Faith Church at E. 38th St. and S. Indiana Ave.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, former mayor Richard M. Daley and Rev. Jesse Jackson attended the service.

Crowds of mourners turned out Friday for the visitation for Reverend Evans.

EMBED More News Videos

Crowds of mourners turned out for the visitation for iconic Chicago Pastor and civil rights leader Reverend Clay Evans.

He founded Chicago's Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church back in 1950 and served as pastor there for 50 years. On Friday, the Chicago titan was remembered and honored.

"He's been my father, my mentor, my pastor. I just love him," said congregant Mellie Smiley.

The men and women whose lives he touched, including Reverend Jesse Jackson, paying their respects and holding up their gratitude.

"Whatever situation you was going through, he always had a word, had a message for whatever you was going through," said attendee Jeremy Patt.

Evans passed away at the age of 94 last month. He was a renowned gospel singer and a civil rights leader, welcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Chicago in the face of backlash.

"We're honoring a legacy that spans the length and breadth of decades, and all of our hearts are heavy because we're gonna miss him," said Fellowship Missionary Baptist Associate Pastor Reginald Sharpe Jr.

WATCH: Remembering Rev. Clay Evans
EMBED More News Videos

Reverend Clay Evans, a legendary Chicago pastor and civil rights leader, passed away Wednesday. He was 94 years old.

Evans made a difference in tens of thousands of lives in his city and more beyond, including that of his 89-year-old sister Lou Della Evans-Reid.

"This is the life he lived. His preaching was not in vain," she said. "He preached about love. And this is showing you. This is love."

His mantra, "it is no secret what God can do," is emblazoned on the church wall and in the hearts of those who love and miss this Chicago icon.

"For me, he is just my father, my mentor, my confidant," said 17th Ward Alderman David Moore.

"His life was an example of what a man should be," said Johnnie Johnson. "If you want to be a part of society, then you have to give back to society."
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.