Charles Gilchrist Adams graduated with honors from the University of Michigan and Harvard University and went on to become a doctoral fellow in Union Theological Seminary in New York City. From 1962 to 1969, Dr. Adams served as Pastor of historic Concord Baptist Church in Boston, followed by an appointment as the Pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit.
In 1991, Dr. Adams addressed the Seventh General Assembly of the World Council of Churches; he was elected to that organization’s Central Committee at this Assembly. He recommended the World Council use its offices and resources to combat racism in the U.S. and around the world, and their response was to join forces with the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Together, the organizations converged on Los Angeles in 1992 to meet with churches, gang leaders, public officials and citizens in order to bring about a lasting peace after the riots following the verdict in the beating of Rodney King.
In 1994, Dr. Adams received his second citation by Ebony Magazine as one of the nations 15 greatest Black preachers (he was first cited in 1984). Ebony also named him as one of the top 100 most influential Black Americans. He served as President of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP in 1984 and was elected to its Executive Board in 1986, 1988, 1990 and 1992.
Dr. Adams was the 1993-94 Conference Preacher for Hampton University Ministers Conference held in Hampton, Virginia. He has been awarded twelve honorary doctorates from colleges and universities across the country; has spoken before the United Nations (on South African Apartheid); and has received the coveted “Rabbi Marvin Katzenstein Award” from the Harvard Divinity School. This is given to a Harvard graduate who exhibits “a passionate and helpful interest in the lives of other people, an informed and realistic faithfulness, an embodiment of the idea that love is not so much a way of feeling as a way of acting and has a reliable sense of humor.”
A prolific writer, Dr. Adams has published locally and nationally in scholarly journals, daily and weekly newspapers. His sermon, “Drunk on the Eve of Reconstruction” appeared in the Winter 2001-2002 Edition of The African American Pulpit (Judson Press). Judson Press also published 9.11.01 African American Leaders Respond to an American Tragedy in which a sermon by Dr. Adams is featured. September 2002, Westminster John Knox Press published Power in the Pulpit, in which Dr. Adams describes how he prepares, writes and delivers his sermons.
Professor of Preaching, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, MI, 2000 to 2007. He held the position of William and Lucille Nickerson Professor of the Practice of Ethics and Ministry, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA., which began in July, 2007 and ended June, 2012.
Dr. Adams’ board affiliations include the Baptist World Alliance, the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Congress of National Black Churches, Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) and Morris College (Sumpter, SC).
He is married to Agnes Hadley Adams and is the father of Tara Adams Washington, MD and the Rev. Charles Christian Adams.