The Rev. Clay Evans, a civil rights leader, influential evangelical broadcaster and gospel music icon, died Wednesday at 94.
His death was announced by Rev. Charles Jenkins, pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, the house of worship Rev. Evans founded after being ordained a minister in 1950.
Rev. Evans was “responsible for launching the ministerial careers of ninety-three people, including Mother Consuella York, the first female to be ordained in the Baptist denomination in Chicago,” according to the website of the church at 4543 S. Princeton Ave.
In 1968 at his church, Rev. Evans ordained the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
In some of the most heated days of the civil rights movement, Rev. Evans defied Mayor Richard J. Daley in welcoming the Rev. Martin Luther King to Chicago.
“When Dr. King decided to use Chicago as a northern expansion of the civil rights movement, Rev. Clay Evans had to endure some political fallout” for his support, said funeral director Spencer Leak Sr. “The word had gone out [from City Hall] that ministers should not invite Dr. King to their churches.”