Bishop Arthur Brazier Dead at 89

Bishop was civil rights activist, leader of Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn

Dr. Arthur M. Brazier, the retired pastor of Chicago's Apostolic Church of God and longtime civil rights activist, has died after a five year battle with prostate cancer.  He was 89.

Brazier passed peacefully and with his family around himi, the church said in a written statement.

"Bishop’s passing represents a great loss to my family, our church, and our community. We will indeed miss him. Yet, we will mourn his passing and celebrate his life with the dignity and grace for which he was known," reads the statement on the church's website.

Published reports indicated that Brazier had been hospitalized in his final days, though a church spokesman would only say the he was "resting."

Brazier led Apostolic Church of God in Chicago's Woodlawn community for 48 years, until his retirement in 2008. He built its membership to 20,000 people.       

Apostolic Church of God has long been a key stop for politicians, although Brazier proclaimed preaching politics "is something that is unacceptable."

Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama gave a speech about fatherhood at the church on Father's Day 2008.  Brazier had previously endorsed Obama in his U.S. Senate campaign.

In a statement from the White House, the president and Michelle Obama expressed their sadness over Brazier's passing:

Gov. Pat Quinn said Brazier was a "good friend and he will be missed greatly."

"He was an agent of change who never wavered from his mission of confronting the larger issues that faced the community.  His passing is a great loss to the people of Illinois."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called Brazier "perhaps the tallest tree in the forest of faith and work."

Brazier was also founding president of The Woodlawn Organization, a community organization active in the civil rights movement in its early years. Its Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Co. acquired vacant city property on which it built low-and mixed-income housing.  

Bishop Brazier is survived by his wife, Esther Isabelle Brazier, his children: Lola Hillman, Dr. Byron T. Brazier, Janice Dortch, and Rosalyn Shepherd; seven grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.

Visitation / Funeral Services:

Bishop Brazier's body will lie in state on Thursday, Oct. 28 from noon to 6:30 p.m. at the church.  A homegoing service will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On Friday, Oct. 29, community, civic and national leaders will honor Brazier.  Viewing begins at 8 a.m. with a service to follow at 11 a.m.  The church said attendees may include President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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