Rev. Chales G. Adams

Prominent Detroit Pastor, Community Activist Charles Adams Dies At 86

He was twice named by "Ebony Magazine" as one of the United States’ 15 greatest Black preachers and one of the 100 most influential Black Americans.

Influential Detroit pastor Rev. Charles Gilchrist Adams died from complication of pneumonia on Nov 29, according to his sister, Edith Clifton. He was 86 years old. 

Adams spent most of his career as a pastor at the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, retiring in 2019. He was active for nearly 50 years. His congregation said the pastor did good work for the Detroit community by using the word of the Lord and resources he had access through the church to economically develop Detroit’s northwest side. 

“Detroiters have lost a great champion and a great man,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement. “As a pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Rev. Adams did more than offer words of hope and inspiration from his pulpit; he created opportunity by purchasing and developing land around Hartford, including the Hartford Village senior citizen community.”

Adams was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Harvard University and the University of Michigan. 

“While he was still a student at Harvard, he was called to be pastor of Historical Concord Baptist church, one of the oldest Black churches in Boston,” Clifton told the Detroit Free Press. “During the seven years he was there, the church built an affordable housing project.”

Former dean of Harvard Divinity School William A. Graham said, “Charles Adams is one of the country’s most accomplished religious leaders. He is not only a widely acclaimed preacher but has been just as influential as a pioneer in linking the church’s mission to urban revitalization through economic, educational, and social initiatives.”

Adams was also a member of the Seventh General Assembly of the World Council of Churches and fought against racism and social inequity all across the country. He was twice named by Ebony Magazine as one of the United States’ top 15 greatest Black preachers and one of the 100 most influential Black Americans. Adams also was a former member of the NAACP’s Detroit branch, serving as president in 1984.

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