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Rev. McGill remembered for work in Aurora, around world

Rev. Dezo McGill pastor MaBaptist Church Aurorfor more than three decades has died age 79.

Rev. Dezo McGill, pastor at Main Baptist Church in Aurora for more than three decades, has died at the age of 79.

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Updated: July 6, 2012 9:43AM

AURORA — For 33 years, Rev. Dezo McGill served the people of Aurora as pastor of Main Baptist Church, and through his death he will continue to do so.

“You hear him quoted all of the time,” said Rev. Julian Spencer, who took over as Main Baptist pastor upon McGill’s retirement in 2006. “His name and his reputation go everywhere... He is not a figure who will fade off into the sunset in death. He is alive and well.”

McGill died Sunday at the age of 79.

McGill became pastor at Main Baptist in 1973, and grew the congregation from 20 to 2,400 members in just two years. During his tenure, he traveled widely, helping those in Kenya and Zimbabwe though the Africa Crusade Ministry, and in doing so, he touched the lives of thousands.

“There is not one place in Kenya where they don’t know Pastor McGill,” Spencer said. “He has helped so many pastors get to Kenya and have a global understanding of work, the love of God, and the meaning of being helpful to people.”

Which is why his death has been such a loss, Spencer said. “All of Aurora should feel the void that is left by his departure.”

In the city’s 7th Ward, which McGill called home for more than three decades, his presence has made a monumental difference, Spencer said. The effects of McGill’s work are apparent today as those who drive along Loucks Street between New York and Kane Streets see dedication signs bearing his name.

Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns nominated McGill for the honor in 2004 for his commitment to curbing violence in the area.

“We had to show (the pastor) that we love him with something that will always be there,” Hart-Burns said.

“When I first came (to Main Baptist) I went to his house to gain some wisdom from him,” Spencer said. “He didn’t say much, but what he did say was, ‘You love my people, of Main Baptist Church and the world.’”

It was a sentiment McGill shared often.

“It’s all about the people and the relationships they make with the community and one another,” he told The Beacon-News upon his retirement. “God made us of one blood. That’s the one thing I want people to take away from my years here with Main Baptist.”

In addition to serving as pastor, McGill was also chaplain for the Aurora Police Department, and represented Aurora on a national level with several Baptist organizations, and as a board member for both the National Black Churches and Ministers United for Ministerial Development.

People from Mississippi to Tennessee to Wonder Lake, Ill., have felt the impact of the pastor’s death, sending their condolences to the McGill family in an online guest book.

“Aurora has lost one its greatest Christian leaders,” said Rick Johnson of Wonder Lake. “His impact on the community will be remembered forever. My sincere sympathy is extended to his entire church and community families.”

McGill will be buried in Oklahoma, where he was born in 1933.

He is survived by his wife, Esther C. McGill; children, James McGill, Gary Polk, Portia Prather, Dezo McGill Jr., Brenda Johnson, Ronnie McGill, Cathryn McGill, Charles Dixon and Andriette McGill.

Public viewing will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Main Baptist Church, 814 E. Galena Blvd., with formal visitation from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A Homegoing Celebration will be at 9 a.m. Saturday at Main Baptist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to be made to Main Baptist Church for a scholarship fund in honor of McGill.

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