Charles Gilchrist Adams 1936-2023


Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto lost a great friend with the passing of the Rev. Dr. Charles Gilchrist Adams earlier on Wednesday.  Pastor Adams, served as Minister at the historic, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit for over fifty years prior to his official retirement four years ago.  Dr. Adams was not only a remarkable preacher, but also a prophetic voice calling for civil rights and civic reform.  We thank God for the privilege that was ours in knowing and hearing him as we did.

Dr. Adams and the choir of HMBC participated in a pulpit and choir exchange with Yorkminster Park on three different occasions which were organized following the visit of Deacon Milton Fletcher of Hartford Memorial to YPBC for our Watchnight Service twenty-one years ago.  Pastor Adams also spoke and sang at a Yorkminster Park Church Dinner and on another occasion, he drove to Toronto following his morning service to be at Yorkminster Park in order to introduce his great colleague and friend, the late Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor to Yorkminster Park.  Pastor Adams introduction on that occasion was as eloquent and rich as the finest sermon.

His sermons were most memorable and moved us deeply as he entered the pulpit to engage our hearts and minds as if making a case in the very court of God.  Once his case for the Christian faith was made, he would launch into his signature celebration with raised, rhythmic and poetic voice singing into our souls.

After having had the honour of preaching in his pulpit on the first leg of our first exchange and being moved as I was by the heavenly cadence of the African American call and response, I warned Pastor Adams that at Yorkminster Park, the congregation’s highest level of participation is absolute silence.  I told him that when they are deeply moved, they will meet you at the door and tell you they could have heard a pin drop.  And for the most part Pastor Adams achieved the highest level of that sacred silence, but then it happened.  At some point in his celebratory exclamation the entire congregation was unable to sit still any longer and the people jumped to their feet with hands clapping and a chorus of Amens echoing through the sanctuary.

Thinking back on it now, it was such an honour as a young preacher to be welcomed by this master orator with such warmth and grace.  I treasure those memories as I am certain all of our choir members do as well of sharing services with one of America’s greatest preachers.

Shortly before the death of one of my predecessors, the remarkable John Gladstone, I took Charles to visit the preacher we both admired so greatly.  During an earlier chapter in his ministry, when he had felt a need to be fed by a great preacher, Pastor Adams would often drive from Detroit to Toronto on a Sunday afternoon in order to attend Yorkminster Park’s evening service and hear Dr. Gladstone preach.  He had never announced himself during those years, but when he met Dr. Gladstone on his first visit to our pulpit, he embraced him and told him what a difference he had made in his life and ministry.  What a blessing it was for Yorkminster Park to realize it had played a small part in nurturing one of the great preachers of the day and what a blessing it always was to welcome him to our pulpit.

To read more about the passing of this remarkable friend and preacher please go to….