NINETY YEARS A PREACHER; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 5
(House of Representatives - January 10, 2019)

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                        NINETY YEARS A PREACHER

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Danny K. Davis) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. DANNY K. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to 
a dear friend and one of the most revered ministers of the gospel that 
the Chicago metropolitan area has ever known.
  Reverend James Bass was born on May 7, 1920, to the late Frank and 
Hattie Bell Bass in a rural Mississippi town.
  James began school at the age of 6 in a little church house near 
Sunflower River Road, where he attended with his two brothers and one 
sister. His first teacher, Mr. Lee, taught all of the classes that were 
in session when the farming seasons were not in force.
  As a little boy, James loved playing marbles, pitching horseshoes, 
and playing church, with him preaching. He also would preach the 
funeral for any of the animals that died and became known as the boy 
  Every Sunday, James attended church with his family in their mule-
driven wagon. In 1929, he officially joined church after sitting on the 
mourners bench during a revival. He continued to grow and develop, got 
a job at the church as custodian, and attended and graduated from the 
Booker T. Washington High School in Ruleville, Mississippi.
  In 1938, James revealed his calling and preached his first sermon as 
a full-fledged minister at the age of 18.
  On December 7, 1941, James was drafted into the military and served 3 
years in the U.S. Army during World War II. He carried no weapon and 
continued his ministerial work.
  After being discharged, he returned home and enrolled at Tougaloo 
College in 1948, majoring in history. He attended the Mississippi 
seminary in Jackson in 1951. He became pastor of the Mt. Israel Baptist 
Church in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he sponsored a radio broadcast 
for senior citizens and those who were sick and shut in.
  In December of 1955, James was invited to Detroit to preach a revival 
at Canaan Baptist Church. On the way back, he stopped in Chicago to 
visit his brother and sister and was honored to preach at the Greater 
Open Door Baptist Church.
  In August of 1956, Reverend Bass organized a small mission. The 
mission grew, and the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church was founded 
in September of 1956.
  He returned to Chicago and commuted between Chicago and Mississippi 
for 6 years, and, after fasting and praying, he decided that his type 
of ministry really needed to be in a large urban city.
  In 1967, Reverend Bass and Helyn Maxine Julius were united in holy 
matrimony and were blessed with two children, Vincent in 1968 and 
Vikkeda in 1970.
  Under Reverend Bass' leadership, Mt. Olive grew into a substantial 
Baptist church, with significant influence in the community.
  When Dr. Martin Luther King came to Chicago and lived on the West 
Side, Reverend James Bass was there with him and stood shoulder-to-
shoulder when others sleeked away or refused to stand.
  Reverend Bass was known as an activist, independent-minded preacher 
who used his pulpit effectively to foster something called liberation 
theology. He will be remembered as one who knew that the doors of the 
church must be open both ways: inside so that people could come and be 
spiritually nurtured, but also outside so that they could use the 
information for the benefit of themselves and their communities.
  For more than 90 years, Reverend James Bass preached what he called 
the gospel. He was an effective messenger, and what a messenger he was. 
May his soul rest in peace.