If only we could all be so fortunate to reach the latter part of our lives and realize that our previous 50 years have inspired the masses.
A crowd of more than 200 came out to express their appreciation for the Rev. Dr. Shelvin Jerome Hall, who’s celebrating 50 years as pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, located at 5200 W. Jackson Blvd.
Members of Rev. Hall’s congregation held a 50th Anniversary Pastor’s Appreciation Black Tie Gala for the 89-year-old Hall, who may be in his last year as pastor for the church he calls “like home.”
The event took place at the Harold Washington Library Winter Garden on Friday Oct. 7. The reverend was joined by his daughters L. Priscilla Hall, a Justice of the Supreme Court, Second Judicial District in Brooklyn, New York, and Justice Shelvin Louise M. Hall, who served from 1998 to 1999 as the chairperson on the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association.
Also in attendance: 29th Ward Ald. Isaac Carothers and Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7th), who spoke in length about what Rev. Hall has meant to the community.
He has always been a man who stood behind his beliefs despite the consequences,” Davis said in his speech. “He stood alongside Dr. Martin Luther King in the ’60s when he’d come to Chicago to speak. At the time, the other Mayor Richard Daley had foreboded any church to allow King to speak. There were people who wanted to run him out of town for standing up against the contributors of the racial unrest at the time. However, he was not afraid. He stood firm despite the repercussions and showed himself to be a man of great courage.”
Davis also spoke on Rev. Hall’s successful attempt years back to keep open Jackson Square Nursing Home located at 5130 W. Jackson. The home had funding problems at the time. Davis acknowledged Rev. Hall’s work to help open the Community Bank Of Lawndale despite skepticism about its ability to prosper on the West Side.
“His humanity toward those who are more vulnerable or less fortunate are the keys tounderstanding Rev. Hall, and I’m proud to call him my brother and my friend.”
Judge Louise Hall took the podium as well, opening her words of admiration with: “Some may call him Doctor Hall, or Reverend Hall, he’s also known by a proud few as Dad.”
Judge Hall spoke about the state of the West Side when Rev. Hall first arrived at Friendship Baptist Church, and how his leadership impacted generations to come. She noted her father’s efforts in inspiring people toward home ownership, community service ventures and students studying abroad. Such efforts, she said, would have each seemed all but impossible five decades prior.
She also recognized the fact that his daughters themselves work in a field that allow them to seek fairness and equality through the justice system. His son Louis Hall works in the field of higher education.
In the end, Janet Jamieson, chairperson of the Pastor’s Appreciation Committee summed the event up perfectly.
“He is very open-minded,” Jamieson said. “He treats everyone he meets with such a level of respect and dignity that he makes all those who meet him want to be a better person. That is the legacy he will forever have a Friendship Baptist.”