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Renowned Preacher, Civil Rights Leader, And Gospel Artist Rev. Clay Evans Dies

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Legendary preacher the Rev. Dr. Clay Evans has died at 94.

A flock of millions were in mourning Wednesday for the Rev. Evans – an icon with a microphone, be it at the pulpit preaching or on the stage singing.

Evans was founding pastor of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side in 1950. His weekly TV sermons reached millions.

The church was founded as Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church and first operated from the Winfred Harris Funeral Home at 49th and State streets.

The church has been located at 45th Place and Princeton Avenue since 1973.

Evans was also a civil rights leader, and helped create Operation PUSH with the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. In a statement Wednesday night, Jackson said Evans' support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights led to trouble with the city when it came time to build the new church.

"Rev. Evans paid a price for his stand for civil and human rights by his support of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he visited Chicago in the 1960s. Fellowship Church stood in steel girders for seven years because the city of Chicago refused permits, banking and other forms of support to finish the expansion of Fellowship," Jackson said in a statement. "Rev. Clay Evans laid the groundwork for our advancements as a people in Chicago and around the nation."

Evans also made it onto the Billboard charts as a gospel music artist 11 times.

He stepped down from the pulpit in 2000, but remained active and faithful.

His famous mantra was, "It is no secret what God can do."

The Rev. Jackson's statement continued, "Rev. Evans was the pastor to countless faith leaders and countless others including the legendary Sam Cooke, Johnny Taylor, to me who he and Rev. C.L. Franklin ordained." The Rev. C.L. Franklin was a well-known minister civil rights activist in Detroit who was also the father of Aretha Franklin.

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