(CBS DETROIT) - Longtime Detroit pastor, the Rev. Charles Gilchrist Adams, has died at age 86, reportedly from pneumonia.
Adams spent half a century as pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. He was a former member of the NAACP Detroit chapter executive board, serving as president in 1984.
"Charles Adams went home empty..because he gave it all to us and for that, we are very grateful," said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, NAACP Detroit chapter president.
Known as the"prince of the pulpit," Adams was a man of the people. Born in Detroit, he went to college and graduated from both the University of Michigan and Harvard University. Once in his career, he used the church to help spur revitalization throughout the city.
"Adams' voice was one that everyone would listen to. He had a way of just drawing people in. Every politician wanted Charles Adams on their side."
Having strong ties to the community, his impact is felt.
"Dr. Adams was right for Detroit. The right person for our city, state, and country. And certainly, he was the right person for the Black church."
Adams, who was described as level-headed, is known for his good gestures.
Theodore Jones has been a member of Hartford Memorial for over 30 years. He's got to see firsthand the graciousness of Adams.
He says Adams sent him a card with condolences after his father died in 2002. Days later, the unexpected happened.
"We looked up, and without notice, he walked into the church in Philidelphia where he had flown the day before. It was totally unexpected but meant so much to us as a family," Jones said.
Many people said Adam's friendliness is what will be missed most.
"His amazing – ability to connect with anyone at any time any place and any situation," Jones said.
Funeral arrangements are being finalized.
Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist issued the following statement:
"Rev. Charles Gilchrist Adams was a titan of the Christian faith and a legendary leader of the Detroit community. He was a 'preacher's preacher,' a rhetorical force of nature, and a deeply respected ecumenical leader who spoke equally and easily to presidents and everyday people."
"He transformed Detroit not only with his words but with his actions. He served as President of the Detroit Branch NAACP and the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Under his leadership, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church delivered countless services to support the success of Detroiters, such as tutoring, Head Start, and affordable housing. He was a deeply moral man, a crusader against racial injustice, and a leader against the apartheid regime in South Africa."
"On behalf of the Gilchrist family, my partner in public service Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the entire state of Michigan, I want to offer condolences to Rev. Christian Adams, the Adams family, and everyone Rev. Charles Adams touched during his time with us. Today, and every day, let us celebrate Rev. Adams' extraordinary life and work and recommit ourselves to following in his footsteps to build a brighter future for our city, state, and world."
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