When beloved faith leader and social activist Rev. Gregory Roberts, died last week after a lengthy and valiantly fought battle with prostate cancer, political standouts around the state and the nation expressed a strong sense of loss and sadness.
The faith based leaders contributions to building relationships between the religious and political sectors were critical to establishing lines of communications and delivery mechanisms between Michigan’s religious and political sectors.
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, who appointed Roberts as the director of community and faith-based initiatives for Wayne County said the community leader was more than appointee and that he died as he had lived – fighting. “Building the interfaith community relationships throughout the county and having and avenue for connectivity and feedback from all of the communities in Wayne County is always critical, and that is something Greg handles with great professionalism and great poise,” said Evans.
“Greg was the gatekeeper to the entire faith community,” continued Evans. “He was the first to lead faith-based leaders in just astronomical numbers, not just in Detroit and Wayne County, but statewide … his connection [reached} from Detroit to Benton Harbor and from Muskeegon and all points in between.”
Roberts religious and social influence garnered him great respect among from local and state leders and he came to be recognized by high level officials as an important political aide. Roberts served as the inaugural director for Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm’s Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives and as a special advisor to Granholm. He also served as district director for former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.
A community advocate and organizing standout, Roberts became involved with the Shrine of the Black Madonna of the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church in the early ‘70s and served as a minister there for nearly two decades.
Roberts also was involved in various community organizations and government agencies in Detroit. He helped create Detroit Mentoring Center for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit. and director of the Metropolitan Detroit Youth Foundation’s Learning Center. Roberts recently founded GR Strategic Consulting, a public affairs and political consulting firm.
“There was always a great synergy that Greg created … He was a very confident and thoughtful loyal soldier and as far as I ‘m concerned he will be impossible to replace,” concluded Evans.
Surviving are his sister, Beverly Williams-Brantley; four daughters, Marcy (Merecco Sr.), Jaren, Sydney and Maya; four grandsons: Merecco Jr., Matthew, Jaedon and Zaire; granddaughter Egypt; a niece; nephews; and many other relatives.