Pastor-Emeritus Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago
By A.L. Smith, Contributing Writer
For nearly a century, three generations of Black Pastors named Jackson prophetically led the faithful congregations at the historic, south side Bronzeville-based, 103-year-old Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago (LBC).
Sadly, the final member of this esteemed, family of God-called African-American ministers who provided decades of religious services and community advocacy left this mortal coil to be with the Lord.
Rev. Darrell L. Jackson, B.A., M.Div., the Pastor-Emeritus of Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago who retired in 2019 after celebrating twenty-five years of dedicated service as Pastor (1994-2019), died following a short illness associated with a recent stroke. He leaves to mourn his passing his beloved wife, former 1st Lady Michelle (Bullock) Jackson, a retired Chicago public school administrator, their adult son Maurice Jackson, brother and Morehouse College professor Dr. Duane Jackson, sisters Gloria Jackson and Jazmine Jackson, and a host of grieving family, friends, LBC church members and local civic admirers.
Throughout his life, after growing up in Chatham, graduating from Hirsch High School, Atlanta’s famed Historically Black institution, Morehouse College and then Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston Illinois, he successfully preserved and protected the legacy of spiritual excellence and committed social justice established by his forebears and Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago (LBC) pastoral leadership predecessors, his grandfather, Rev. Durmon Zollie (D.Z.) Jackson, (1925-1950) and his father, Rev. Abraham Patterson (A.P.) Jackson (1951-1994). It was Rev. A. P. Jackson who welcomed his Morehouse brother and fellow minister, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil-rights icon who made Liberty his home church and often spoke from the church’s imposing pulpit during the 1960’s Chicago Freedom Movement.
In addition, the late Hon. Harold Washington, Chicago’s 1st Black Mayor often visited Liberty during his historic campaigns. The anti-Apartheid activist South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, a young activist Barack Obama, who rose to become the nation’s 1st Black President, the former and 1st Black woman U.S. Senator from Illinois Carol Moseley-Braun, were also welcomed to Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago over the years. Pastor Darrell L. Jackson opened the doors to numerous key local elected officials, as well as national social justice and human rights freedom-fighters throughout his quarter-century pastorship.
His mission-driven involvement in Chicago neighborhoods was well known and widely respected. Pastor Jackson actively participated in the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) and was the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his community service during his ministerial career. Pastor Jackson championed economic development and focused on eliminating health disparities within the city’s African-American community. An early advocate of criminal justice reform efforts, Pastor Jackson also served as a former Chaplain of the Cook County Correctional Center in conjunction with the One Church-One Inmate prison ministry.
Current Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago (LBC) Pastor and fellow Morehouse College alumni, Rev. Andrew D. Hunt Jr., CPA, M.Div., expresses the sorrow of church members, “Pastor Jackson’s life and work was a true spiritual testament and built on the principle that God’s benevolence is available to all. He was a dedicated religious leader, strong man of God, a loving husband and father, and supportive mentor. Chicago has indeed lost a great, honorable man, who will be deeply missed and always remembered.”
As a member of the last group of emerging new ministers ordained by the late Pastor Darrell L. Jackson, B.A., M.Div., current LBC youth pastor Rev. Damon Smith, B.A., M.Div. reflected on the myriad of spiritual lessons imparted by the late Pastor Darrell L. Jackson: “We were all fortunate and blessed to have been taught by Pastor Jackson. In retrospect, perhaps his greatest ecumenical gift to those of us aspiring to do God’s work and will was providing us with his trusted voice of intellect, insight and inspiration.”
Over his years of answering the call to Christ with determination, grace and a ‘passionate pastoral spirit’, “Pastor Darrell”, as he was affectionately known, initiated numerous outreach ministries, designed to address the multi-dimensional needs of a distressed, yet resilient and evolving community on Chicago’s south side.
These ministries included: the Couples Ministry, Singles Ministry, Grief and After-Care, Free N One (Substance & Alcohol Abuse), Feed the People Outreach Ministry, The Sisterhood, and responding to needs of the men within and outside of the church – he helped establish one called the Brotherhood. In addition, he proudly created the ‘Godfathers of Wisdom’ Youth Mentoring Program.
Pastor Jackson was both a spiritual warrior AND an activist minister, fully invested in the philosophy that God’s work extends into the neighborhoods outside the doors of the church. Recognizing the critical importance of ‘Christian Outreach’ ministries, he served as Chaplain at Leak & Sons Funeral Chapel, as well as serving as a former Chaplain at Cage, and A. A. Rayner & Sons Funeral Chapels.
Dedicated in all ways to service — he was active in neighborhood Block Clubs, a member of the Chicago Minister’s Council in the seventh Congressional District, and the Hirsch High School Local School Council. He formerly served as president of the Hirsch Alumni Association and chaired events for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) telethon church committee. He also served as a youth motivational speaker for local and national groups on numerous occasions.
Pastor Darrell L. Jackson, B.A., M.Div., served on the State of Illinois Committee for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday, and was featured in Dr. Henry Young’s book, “The Clergy and Mayor Harold Washington.”
In 1994, Pastor Jackson helped to establish the Abraham Patterson Jackson Scholarship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and the seminary honored him at his tenth anniversary by adding his name to the scholarship. This scholarship endowment is presently known as the A.P. and D.L. Jackson Scholarship and is the only Baptist father and son endowment at this Methodist seminary.
Chicago’s religious community has lost an admired and deeply respected advocate, advisor, and spiritual leader. A celebration for Pastor Jackson will be held later this week to honor his life’s final earthly chapter of well done, forever faithful work.