In reference to Black History Month, I want to share with you someone who has greatly impacted my life and the Peoria community – my father, Pastor Jeffery Ivory, Sr. Rev. Ivory was the Pastor of Grace Baptist Church for 40 years. Under his leadership and direction, the church grew to over 800 members.
Rev. Ivory, one of the most highly respected ministers in the Peoria area and the oldest pastor in the Central District, was known by other ministers as the “Godfather.” As a pastor, he was a fisher of men and a shepherd of his flock, but his aim was not merely the salvation of souls but also the salvation of society. He carried this mission, spirit of faith, love, and hope with him wherever he went.
Though a humble guy, he was a great role model who taught me and others to always do what’s right. When times were tough, and things weighed heavily, he reminded us that “they crucified Jesus who came to save the world, so who are we to let a little adversity stop us.”
As a community leader, he championed many causes. People knew that if he was involved in it, it was definitely something worth getting involved in. As a past moderator of the Central District Association, past president of the Baptist Ministerial Alliance and Central District Congress of Christian Education, and a member of the Peoria Christian leadership Council, Rev. Ivory was a man dedicated to improving the conditions of the city of Peoria. As a Board Member of the Minority Affairs Council for the Illinois Department of Transportation for District 4, he worked to improve minority participation for black contractors throughout the region. He was also dedicated to helping minority businesses with expanding and gaining exposure around the state through his participation with the Central Illinois Black Expo and as an avid supporter of the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce.
Though he never sought visibility, his words of wisdom, his calm in any storm, his sense of peace, and his willingness to always help with a smile on his face made him well known throughout the community. He leaves big shoes to fill and a great legacy behind.