Pastor of The Met Is Credited for Building a Generation of Leaders
When Dr. Leon Finney, Jr. enrolled in the prestigious McCormick Theological Seminary in 1994, he didn’t aspire to become pastor of a megachurch, preaching hell and brimstone or prosperity sermons to build followers and wealth. He knew God had another calling for him.
Already a prominent community organizer, as well as a leader in education, business, nonprofit, and civic organizations, Dr. Finney, simply wanted to organize the church, following the model of the biblical Apostle Paul and John Calvin, the famous French theologian during the 1500s who many credited as the most important figure in the second generation of Protestant Reformation.
On Monday, December 16, 2019, at 6:00 PM, about 250 church followers, faith, community, civic, political and business leaders gathered with Rev. Dr. Leon Finney, Jr. to celebrate his 25 years in the ministry. The event was held at the Chicago Lake Shore Hotel at 4900 S. Lake Shore Dr. in Chicago. Those in attendance included Dr. David Daniels, the Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity at McCormick Theological Seminary, where Dr. Finney received his doctorate in ministry, iconic businessman Spencer Leak; legendary radio talk show host Cliff Kelly; Bishop Jerry Jones, several members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and Ernest Radcliffe, director of the Chicago Wolfpack Youth Football team, whose meetings for the team and cheerleaders are held in the church.
“Many mouths have been fed; many homeless have slept in a nice home at night, and many of the unemployed have found jobs,” said Rev. Jackson, the founder and president of the RainbowPUSH Coalition, highlighting Dr. Finney’s impact in Chicago. “Despite all the ills in our community, the challenges and setbacks, he had the mindset to persevere and continue in the fight for our people.”
Turning his head from the attendees to Dr. Finney, Rev. Jackson added, “You have been such an inspiration for me across the years. It is now my place to give it back. I say don’t take Leon for granted. Leaders and great men like him only come along every now and then. He deserves our support.”
Dr. Finney’s influence is evident in the faith community, where he is credited for opening doors for other pastors who are strong advocates of the church taking a lead in transforming communities.
“The Rev. Dr. Leon Finney’s vision and leadership helped form a generation of church and civic leaders in Chicago and beyond,” said David Crawford, president of McCormick, which is located on the campus of the University of Chicago. “That same vision and his tireless determination helped transform our seminary. With love and gratitude, we wish Dr. Finney blessings and best wishes in celebration of his 25 years in ministry.”
Dr. Finney’s pastoral journey began at Christ Apostolic Church at 6302 S. Cottage Grove Ave. in Woodlawn. He would later move to a larger space inside a school at 1445 E. 65th St., and finally to Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, where the church is currently at 4100 S. King Dr., a former Presbyterian church that dates to the 1890s.
At the closing of the three-hour event, Dr. Finney told attendees he was moved by their support. Healing from major health challenges, following prostate cancer and quadruple bypass heart surgery, he looks forward to the next phase of his ministry.
“I cannot afford to ignore the struggles in our community,” he said. “I will not spend any of my time on anything but trying to save us. By the grace of God, it is the us that has saved me. I am appreciative to the Lord for people who have been by my side to support me.”
He added, “It is always rewarding and refreshing to be honored as I have this evening. My sense is that I have somewhere along the line, intentionally, or unintentionally, done something that helped our people, and I just like to say to each one of you that have made this sacrifice to attend this event, I deeply appreciate you being here. We remain mission driven. That means we are more interested in driving the mission than driving our own personal aggrandizement. As written in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”
Born in Louise, Mississippi, Dr. Leon Finney has devoted his professional life to the revitalization of urban communities. In 1993, he joined the faculty of McCormick Theological Seminary as a Professor of African American Leadership Studies and Executive Director of the African American Leadership Partnership. Dr. 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.
For additional information about Rev. Dr. Leon Finney and the event, contact Jerry Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (312) 414-4016.