Local pastor, civil rights leader dies at 58

Lansing, MI – LANSING, MI (WKAR) - The Rev. Lester Stone, a leading spiritual and civil rights figure in Lansing, has died.


Lester Stone led the Friendship Baptist Church as pastor for nearly 28 years. He was widely viewed as a civil rights champion who had the ear of local policymakers. His colleagues say Stone was compassionate about the needs of people within and outside of his congregation, and that he patterned his ministry after the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The church's senior minister, Rev. Clyde Carnegie, says the congregation will miss Stone's tremendous personality.

"And his ability to draw people to himself and his tenacity on issues, and his willingness to give," Carnegie says. "He never really asked anything in return."

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says Stone was a lightning rod for social justice.

"Well, he was one that was constantly prodding us as a community and as a state to do better," says Bernero. "He stood strong for his beliefs. He called us to a higher standard, he challenged the city on issues, and has been a leader."

But Stone also saw disputes within his own church. Earlier this year, some in his congregation sided against him over matters of church governance. Lansing police were reportedly called to the church on more than one occasion.

Lester Stone was 58. Funeral services are pending.