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Prominent Detroit Pastor Charles Adams Dies At 86



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


Influential Detroit pastor Rev. Charles Gilchrist Adams passed away following a battle with pneumonia on Nov 29. He was 86 years old. 

According to his sister, Edith Clifton Adams passed away from complications related to the illness. She told the Detroit News the next day, “He was my only sibling and my best friend.”

The 88-year-old woman added, “We talked almost every day.”

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 develop Detroit’s northwest side economically. 

Mayor Mike Duggan expressed in a statement following Adams’ passing, “Detroiters have lost a great champion and a great man. 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 college from Harvard University and the University of Michigan. 

His sister recalled to the outlet, “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. During the seven years he was there, the church built an affordable housing project.”

Others expressed their sympathy and admiration for all the work Adams did while he was alive. 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 additionally 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 top 100 most influential Black Americans. Adams also was a former member of the NAACP’s Detroit branch and was president of the branch in 1984.

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