The Rev. Charles E. Adams II has been the pastor at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Gary, Ind., since 1990. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
“ ... For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
— Jesus Christ
The Rev. Charles Edward Adams II, 49, lives in the Midtown neighborhood of Gary with Kimbley, his wife of 23 years. They have raised one adult son, Charles Edward Adams III, who attends Purdue University in West Lafayette.
Charles II is the pastor of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, at 977 Chase St. in Gary.
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“About 23 years ago and eight months after my father passed, I was chosen to be the pastor here,” Adams began.
Your father was pastor at Pilgrim Rest before you?
Born and raised in Gary?
“No, I was born in Baton Rouge, La. My father originally was from Natchez, Miss., and my mother was from Brookhaven, Miss.”
I’m sure you enjoy gospel music, but that’s also blues territory down there.
“Yes, it is (laughs).”
“Horace Mann. Then, I was in the Navy for four years. I also went to Indiana Bible College right here in Gary. I was a class of ’91 graduate with a bachelor’s in theology.”
Wistful memories of former Horace Mann High School?
“Yeah, there’s some sadness there. I felt they could have kept the school open. I think a lot of it might have been political. It was 80 years old when they closed it. Horace Mann had a good run.”
Did you get the calling at a young age?
“Yes, when I was 13 I got the calling from God to preach. My mother and father, they felt it. My pastor at the time told them: ‘That boy is going to be called to preach.’ That was in 1977.”
How many members does Pilgrim Rest have?
“About 300. From Sunday to Sunday, we average about 150. Morning worship begins at 11.”
Are they home by noon to watch the Bears?
“Oh, no. But that’s a good question. We’re sometimes finished by 1 p.m.”
It’s not just a one-day-a-week job.
“Throughout the week, I visit the hospitals, sometimes I have to council, there are funerals and weddings ... You never run out of things to do. It’s a calling that I love. I love helping people.
“I thank God for my wife Kim; she’s a treasure and also a registered nurse at Community Hospital. She works here faithfully with our young people.”
Takin’ it to the streets?
“We get out in the neighborhood and do what we call evangelizing, where we’ll go door-to-door. We witness to people in the neighborhood seeing whether or not they have a church home.
“We have members here whom at one time lived across the street when Ivanhoe Housing and Development was up. After they tore it down, we continued to provide transportation for those who had to relocate.”
“One thing I desire is that our city will really rebound or come back up. I believe our present mayor has some good ideas.”
From what I’ve read and heard it seems Mayor Freeman-Wilson is really trying to do her best.
“I do, too. I know Karen personally; she went to high school with my wife at West Side. She has been invited to some of our church functions and she shows up. I believe she has the backing of Gary’s churches.
“Jeff, I love Gary. I’m a proud citizen; I don’t care what others have to say about it. My prayer is that some economic development starts happening here. I know you know we have high unemployment here.”
The schools in Gary?
“That’s a concern I have — education. At our church we try to tutor kids who need it. We want all of them to succeed and to graduate. We have young people who were oratorical winners and have received scholarships.”
How long has Pilgrim Rest been around?
“Almost 89 years.”
“Two of the hymns I love to hear and sing would be ‘I Love the Lord; He Heard My Cries’ and ‘Amazing Grace.’”
What about stories or verses from the Bible? I always was touched by the woman who threw two mites into the offering, whereas the rich men gave only small portions of their wealth.
“The poor woman who gave all she had — Mark 12: 41-43. I’m inspired when I read about when the Lord called Abraham to leave his home and his family. Abraham didn’t know where he was going, but had faith and trusted God. To demonstrate faith, you have to believe.”
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Whether it was while working in the steel mill for 27 years or from interviewing people for this column the last eight years, I’ve met so many good people from Gary.
The Rev. Charles Edward Adams II just got added to the list.