A well-known South Side pastor has died after contracting the coronavirus.
Archbishop Lucius Hall, founder and pastor of First Church of Love and Faith and a leader in gospel circles, died Thursday at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, according to Roland Chapman, an associate minister at the church at 2140 W. 79th St. He was 87.
Chapman, who said he was the archbishop’s designated power of attorney, said doctors told him, “It was heart failure, and the coronavirus did have a play in it.”
The church’s most recent service was held March 15, according to Chapman.
“I cannot find the words. So deeply touched by his passing,” Rev. Jesse Jackson said on Facebook.
Born in Chicago, the future pastor attended Burke grade school and DuSable High School, where he knew famed band director Capt. Walter Dyett, who taught music legends including Bo Diddley, Nat “King” Cole, Dorothy Donegan, Von Freeman and Dinah Washington.
His formative years were spent at First Church of Deliverance, 4315 S. Wabash Ave. He sang with the choir there and was featured on the recordings of “Beatitudes” and “Keep A Goin,’ ” Chapman said.
At 15, he became a church announcer on broadcasts that went out across the United States and Canada, according to Chapman. “He had a voice and a style that many announcers try to emulate,” he said.
Archbishop Hall – who founded his church in 1980 – hosted the gospel program “Rock of Ages” on WCIU-Channel 26 in the 1960s, Chapman said. And he led Sunday radio services on WVON-AM.
The archbishop also helped organize gospel extravaganzas featuring traditional artists including the Barrett Sisters, The Treadwell Community Singers and Rev. Milton Brunson.
“It was the event of the year for black people at that time,” Chapman said.
Recently, the archbishop told the Sun-Times he marveled at hearing a new voice brought to Chicago in the early 1960s by Rev. C.L. Franklin of Detroit: his daughter, the future superstar Aretha Franklin.
“Aretha was a young little girl then, and she was singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ ” he recalled.
He sometimes acted as a master of ceremonies and did introductions at Chicago’s Gospel Music Festival alongside legends like Albertina Walker. And he was a vice president of the Broadcast Ministers Alliance television ministry, according to his biography.
Pam Morris-Walton worked with him on BMA cable programming. “Archbishop Lucius Hall had a caring heart,” said the longtime WVON gospel radio host. “He didn’t mind helping whoever it was. He was there for you and he was a kind-hearted man ... he’d always say ‘God will take care of you.’ ”
The archbishop was always accessible, patient and generous, said Sharon Roberts, whose father, Bishop Isaiah L. Roberts, presided over the funeral of Emmett Till in 1955 at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ at 40th and State. “I could call on him. I could go to his office. I could talk to him,” Roberts said.
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed him to the influential Human Resources Board, a city panel where government employees could appeal to keep their jobs after they got into trouble. He served there for about 21 years, Chapman said.
A former Army military police officer, the archbishop made headlines in 1997 when he shot a burglary suspect who apparently eeled his way through the ventilation system before crashing through the ceiling of the church fellowship hall.
“He lunged at me, and I was in fear of my life,” he said at the time. “He still lunged at me after being shot. Then, he sat down on the floor. I grabbed a big stick we use for protection because I didn’t want to shoot him any more.”
“I’m God’s man, but I want to be around,” Archbishop Hall told the Sun-Times.
The suspect – who ended up in fair condition with a chest wound – was charged with burglary.
Funeral arrangements are pending.