Reverend John Loyd Edwards, Jr. died peacefully on Thursday morning at his home.
Pastor at Cosmopolitan Community Church, he was one of Chattanooga’s oldest and active ministers at 90 years old. He was born in Oklahoma City, Ok., the second youngest of 12 children to the late Reverend John Loyd Edwards, Sr. and Mahala Edwards. The Edwards family were early pioneers of Oklahoma’s Black community and several municipalities are named in their honor.
Following high school graduation, John Edwards joined the Civilian Conservation Corp, a “New Deal” work relief program that provided jobs for young men during the U.S. Great Depression. Mr. Edwards was a veteran having served in the United States Navy during World War II. Mr. Edwards attended Langston University in Langston, Ok.; and graduated from the Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville. He served as youth pastor and Assistant to the late Reverend Dr. Kelley Miller Smith at Historic First Baptist Church Capitol Hill Nashville in the early 50s before becoming pastor at Nashville’s Mount Nebo Baptist Church.
Active in Nashville’s civil rights demonstrations in the early sixties, Mr. Edwards personally escorted the first black student to integrate the Nashville public school system.
Rev. Edwards and his late wife, Lottie M. Edwards moved their family to Chattanooga, in 1963 where he succeeded civil rights icon, the Reverend C.T. Vivian as Pastor of the Cosmopolitan Community Church. Edwards served as the first president of the Chattanooga Christian Leadership Council (an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) During that time he led initiatives to successfully integrate local housing developments (Boone-Hysinger) and hospital wards at Erlanger Medical Center, Hamilton County Nursing Home and other medical facilities.
Under the auspices of the Cosmopolitan Community Church, where he served as pastor for over 50 years, Rev. Edwards instituted several community outreach programs, including H.E.L.P. Inc. and the Mary Walker Historical and Education Foundation.
He authored the book, Ex-slave Extra: The Mary Walker Story, and is considered one of the leading promoters of literacy and Black History in the region. One of the exhibits he produced, (Black Inventors) is presently on display at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.
He was preceded in death by his late wife, Lottie Mai Edwards; daughter, Christine (Cookie) Edwards Robinson; and son, David N. Edwards.
Source: The Chatranoogan