Melvin E. Banks Sr., UMI Founder, Dies at 86

Melvin E. Banks Sr., a renowned clergy who launched Urban Ministries, Inc., more than 50 years ago to provide African American churches and individuals with images reflecting their congregations, has died.

Banks, who founded the Chicago-based UMI in 1970, died Feb. 13 at age 86.

“Dr. Banks was a revolutionary publisher and giant for the African American church and community,” said C. Jeffrey Wright, UMI CEO, said in a press release. “He was the first to create contextualized content that portrayed positive images of African Americans in the Bible. Because of his innovation, UMI has reached millions of Black churches and individuals with the gospel.”

Banks, an Alabama native who graduated from Moody Bible College in Chicago in 1955 and attended Wheaton College, obtained a master’s degree in biblical studies, wrote several books and devotionals, and hosted a two-minute daily podcast called “Daily Direction,” UMI said in an issued statement.

A private funeral service will be held this week at Pioneer Missionary Baptist Church in South Holland, Ill. a virtual celebration of life will be held via at 7 p.m., Friday.

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