Since 1983, Alvin Love has been the pastor of Chicago’s Lilydale First Baptist Church. Pastor Love was raised primarily in Kemper Spring, Mississippi, during the Civil Rights Movement’s violent climax. He was born in Chicago. In the late 1960s, when he returned to Chicago, he witnessed the riots that followed Dr. King’s murder.
He began studying the gospel ministry in 1975, and in 1980 he received his ordination. Pastor Love continued on to Trinity Christian College, where he earned degrees in psychology and theology in 1982. In 1985, Barack Obama had just relocated to Chicago to work as a community organizer when Pastor Love first met him.
Obama visited many churches, including Lilydale Church, in an effort to get to know the neighborhood. Obama expanded the group of activists in Love’s parish in the months that followed, educating them during monthly meetings in community centers and church basements.
The Development Communities Project (DCP), a group that aspired to transform the black churches of Chicago’s South Side into agents of social change, was subsequently persuaded by Obama to include Pastor Love. Obama’s political career has long been supported by Pastor Love, who also served as the president’s spiritual adviser.