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Rev. Joseph R. Jordan, influential pastor, dies

Rev. Joseph R. Jordan

Rev. Joseph R. Jordan

Rev. Dr. Joseph Ralph Jordan, pastor of Corinthian Baptist Church in Hamtramck, died at the age of 77 on Monday, February 3rd at Detroit Receiving Hospital in Detroit. He served as Corinthian’s pastor for 40 years.  Rev. Wayne Little, senior associate pastor of Corinthian reflected, “Those he touched will remember him as a servant, teacher and a man with a Pastor’s heart.” 

He distinguished himself as a man who genuinely cared for others.  His service has been recognized by many organizations and last year there was an honorary street renaming of Caniff in Hamtramck to Rev. Joseph R. Jordan. When told of the honorary street re-naming, he shunned it and said, “Why me?”

Pastor Jordan’s reach was both local and national. From the pulpit to the pew and from issues involving municipalities to medicine, Rev. Jordan was known for bringing a tone of reconciliation and fair mindedness to the table. He is especially regarded for the intermediary role he played in resolving the long-standing housing discrimination lawsuit in Hamtramck. Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski speaks of Jordan and states, “The entire city of Hamtramck mourns the loss of Rev. Dr. Joseph Jordan, whose life and work has so profoundly shaped our community. Rev. Jordan epitomized the pastoral calling — leading his congregation and the Hamtramck community towards a more perfect expression of our divine potential, and serving his Maker with his mind, hands, heart and soul.”

“Reverend Jordan was a dear and close friend of mine,” said Judge Damon Keith. “We worked closely on the broad discrimination that historically took place in Hamtramck that I ultimately found was Black removal by the city and federal government. If it were not for his persistence and courage, the progress we made in making victims whole would not have taken place.”

Rev. Jordan was the longest serving pastor of Corinthian Baptist Church, organized in 1917. During his 40 year tenure, a new church edifice was constructed in 1989 to accommodate the growing congregation and outreach initiatives. The annual church picnic was transformed into an annual neighborhood carnival where free school supplies are distributed. A bi-annual clothing and household goods giveaway was instituted. The church hosted many citywide and multicultural seminars. These events positively impacted Hamtramck and surrounding Detroit and Highland Park communities.

Rev. Jordan was known as a theologian who had a zeal for Christian education and who taught numerous courses in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and its state and local affiliates.  He was known as a ‘preacher’s preacher’ as his classes were sought after by preachers, teachers and laypersons around the country. Additionally, he was well respected in ecumenical circles and in leadership roles as president, Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity; vice president at large, Wolverine State Baptist Convention; moderator, Metropolitan (Detroit) Baptist District Association; and board member, Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

His consistent and constant demands the poor receive the same quality of health care as the rich rings as true today as it did when he first started chanting that cry nearly 30 years ago. As a health care advocate, he served as: executive committee member, Greater Detroit Area Health Council; trustee, Henry Ford Health System; and chairman, Coalition for Healthcare Equity.

Born in Jasper, Georgia, Rev. Jordan was a young child when his family moved to Detroit. After graduating from Pershing High School, he became a licensed electrician.  He was called to the ministry and served as the assistant pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Detroit under the late Rev. Dr. L. Juan Burt. Understanding that one’s mind must be well sharpened to lead others, Rev. Jordan earned degrees from Wayne State University, University of Detroit and Drew University. He also attended Payne Theological Seminary in Ohio. In September, 1973 he was called to pastor Corinthian Baptist Church in Hamtramck.

Two of his children, Anthony and Kelly, preceded him in death. Dr. Jordan is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Bobbie Drake; two daughters, Kimberly Jordan of Washington, D.C. and Sandra Jordan Bishop and son-in-law David Bishop of Scarsdale, NY; one sister, Arie McCullar (Joe), two brothers, James Jordan (Yvonne) and Jack Jordan (Rose); two granddaughters, Ashtane Jordan of Chicago and Sofia Bishop of New York.

On Sunday, February 3rd he preached his last sermon from Habakkuk 2:4 which provides that the “just will live by faith.” Rev. Jordan lived a life of faith — providing a repeatable example — which will empower multiple future generations to walk in that same faith path.  He leaves behind an outstanding legacy of ministry and service.    All memorial events will occur at Corinthian Baptist Church, 1725 Caniff, Hamtramck. Rev. Jordan will lie in state on Feb. 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Feb. 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A memorial service will be held on Feb. 14 from 6-8 p.m. On Feb. 15, the Family Hour will begin at 9 a.m. and the Home Going Celebration will begin at 10 a.m.  Funeral arrangements for Pastor Jordan are being handled by the Barksdale Funeral Home of Detroit.

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