Crusader Staff Report
Reverend Leon Dorsey Finney, Jr., the pastor and founder of the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church of Christ in Bronzeville and a community activist who helped many residents obtain affordable housing, has died, according to an announcement on WVON. Finney was 82.
The Crusader confirmed Finney’s death through his friend, N’DGO Publisher Hermene Hartman.
Born in Louise, Mississippi in 1938, Rev. Leon Finney has devoted his professional life to the revitalization of urban communities. Finney is most identified with the Woodlawn Organization, a community development initiative. His leadership of the Woodlawn Organization and its $90 million in real estate investments has served to motivate many other communities across the country to initiate similar community development programs.
Finney earned an M.A. in Economics and Urban Community Development from Goddard College; both an M.A. in Theological Studies and a Doctor of Theology degree from McCormick Theological Seminary; and both an M.A. in Public Administration and a Doctoral in Public Administration degree from Nova University.
Finney, who founded the Christ Apostolic Church, which is now the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church has taught at the University of Chicago, Lutheran School of Theology, the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, Presbyterian College of Korea and the Theological College of the Bahamas. In 1993, he joined the staff of McCormick Theological Seminary as a professor of African American Leadership Studies and Executive Director of the African-American Leadership Partnership (AALP). Finney is also the Chairman and Principal for the Lincoln South Central Real Estate Group, Inc.
Finney has served as vice-chairman of the Chicago Public Housing Authority and chairman of the Monitoring Commission for School Desegregation for Chicago Public Schools. He has also served as a board member for the Chicago Planning Commission, Broadcast Ministers Alliance and Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. Finney has written several publications on economic and social development in our cities, including Urban Disinvestment: A Counter Strategy, for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Neighborhood Economic Development-Myth or Fact, and TWO Model Cities Plan.
Finney has received various awards and honors for his professional and civic work.
Statements and Tributes
On Friday, September 4, 2020 Rev. Dr. Marshall Elijah Hatch Offered the following tribute with the passing of Dr. Leon Finney:
There is a portion of a bible verse in 2 Samuel 3:38 that describes how many in our community feel today: “Do you not know that a great man has fallen this day…”. That would be the beginning of our reflections on the life and legacy of Dr. Leon Finney. Many know of his decades long work in community organizing and community development with The Woodlawn Organization. Some are aware of his political organizing skills and his contributions to the success of historic local and national campaigns that were launched from our community. Others are familiar with his career as a restaurant entrepreneur, while others would testify as colleagues in ministry in his pastorate of the Metropolitan Apostolic Church in Bronzeville. All of these accolades are worthy tribute. But, a great measure of the late Dr. Finney’s living legacy will be in ministries of those of us who he paved the way to theological education through his founding of the the African American Leadership Partnership (AALP) in the early 1990’s.
Dr. Finney conceived, secured resources, and shepherd an urban ministry program in partnership with the McCormick Theological Seminary that helped pastors in our community receive training and credentials that have benefited countless communities. Over a decade or more, over seventy-five of us matriculated as AALP recruits. Reverend Congressman Bobby Rush, Dr. Byron T. Brazier, Rev. Leslie Sanders, Dr. Sandra Smith, Dr. Richard Nelson, and others whose impactful ministries have been fostered by the opportunities created by Dr. Finney’s vision and grantsmanship. Graduating with a doctorate in ministry in 1998, I am one of his mentees and beneficiaries. All of my theological training came through the project he created. As a young pastor, being able to travel from Chicago’s westside to Hyde Park during my years of study at McCormick gave me perspective and reprieve and access to a wide range of relationships and networks that have benefited my work and my community. Much of what I have been able to accomplish in ministry is due to the skills developed and the doors opened through the program of Dr. FInney’s AALP. I have subsequently sent many other ministers on to postgraduate programs in ministry. Truly, Dr. Finney’s impact will be ongoing.
We are well aware that Dr. Finney had fault lines along the way. Very few of our long distance runners in community development and social justice make it through life without scars and detractors. But, the undisputed truth of the legacy of the dead is that their legacy has a life of its own. With our lives we can create an impact with life that lives on after we die. Dr. Leon FInney did that. That is the definition of greatness. A great man has fallen indeed, be we as his living legacy are left with the task to carry on the work.
Offered for my Friend and Brother,
Rev. Dr. Marshall Hatch, Senior Pastor
New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church
The Leaders Network of Chicago, Co-Chairmen
Rush Statement on Passing of Reverend Leon Finney
U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) issued the following statement on the passing of Reverend Leon Finney Jr.:
“Dr. Finney’s life and legacy have left his fingerprints on the throttle of change in our city, state, and nation, extending from his father, Leon Finny Sr. — an amazing African-American business man and founder of Leon’s Barbecue — to Saul Alinsky, to Bishop Arthur M. Frazier, to Congressman Ralph H. Metcalfe Jr., to Reverend Jessie L. Jackson Sr., to Mayor Harold Washington, all the way to former President Barack Obama, and in all points and times in between.
“Dr. Finney was an organizer’s organizer, who was on the frontline of change throughout the land. He was my close confidant, colleague, and confederate, and was also my professor at the McCormick Theological Seminary, where he founded the African American Leadership Program, which was responsible for the training of innumerable African American Pastors in receiving their master’s degrees.
“We have remained very close throughout the years and in recent times, especially as he was undergoing these health challenges. He was an absolute friend and an inspiration.
“I alone, with countless others, are in mourning due to his transition, but we all remain committed to furthering his life’s pursuit. My condolences are extended to his immediate family, his church, and to his many friends. His legacy lives on.”
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