The Rev. Dr. Howard W. Creecy Jr., the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was remembered for his spirituality and his impact on people’s lives as civil rights leaders, friends and family gathered at his funeral in Atlanta Saturday.
Among the hundreds of mourners at Jackson Memorial Baptist Church was former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who urged the gathering to “celebrate the wonderful spirit of this spiritual giant that we all love,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday.
Young’s statement as well as that of other dignitaries, friends and colleagues showed that Creecy, pastor of the Olivet Baptist Church in Fayetteville, was a man of relationships.
Maynard Eaton of the SCLC noted that “folks from all walks of life” were there to say goodbye and farewell as well as honor a “guy who touched many, many people in very dynamic ways.” And Democrat Rep. John Lewis from Georgia called Creecy “an unbelievable brother, a friend, a neighbor.”
The Rev. Gregory Sutton, pastor at Jackson Memorial on Fairburn Road, said the funeral service was a celebration of Creecy’s life as a minister, civil rights leader and family man. “He’s had an impact on so many people from so many places,” said Sutton, Creecy’s lifelong friend, calling him “a preacher’s preacher.”
Young, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, assured Creecy’s friends that he was not gone. “He will be with you when you need him. You will hear his voice,” Young was quoted as saying.
The SCLC, an African-American civil rights group, was co-founded by Martin Luther King Jr., in 1957 following the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Creecy became the president of the organization on Jan. 30, 2011, after Bernice King, King’s youngest daughter, declined to take over the leadership. Creecy, who was already SCLC interim president, was expected to stabilize the group that was then struggling with leadership and financial issues.
Creecy, who died at 57 at his home in Atlanta, is survived by his wife, Yolanda Grier Creecy, and two daughters, Teresa and Kennedy. It is believed that he suffered a heart attack.
Isaac Newton Farris Jr., a nephew of Martin Luther King Jr., has now been named interim president.
The website of Olivet Baptist Church introduces Creecy as a third generation gospel preacher, teacher and pastor. “This family’s legacy of leadership now exceeds 100 years of continuous commitment to Christian ministry.”
Creecy was seen as an expert in the area of spiritual warfare. He would receive so many invitations to speak on the subject that it consistently consumed much of his travel schedule.
The late civil rights leader was born in Mobile, Ala. and reared in Atlanta. His training for ministry began at Morehouse College and furthered at the graduate level in the Morehouse School of Religion of the Interdenominational Theological Seminary. He held a Doctor of Divinity from Abotra Bible Institute and Seminary.