Civil Rights Leader Benjamin Hooks Leaving Pulpit in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A noted civil rights leader says he can no
longer meet the physical demands of being a full service pastor.

The Rev. Benjamin Hooks says his last regular sermon at Memphis'
Greater Middle Baptist Church will be next Sunday. Hooks has
preached there for 52 years and will become a minister-in-residence.

Hooks, who is 83, says it is physically impossible for him to carry out all the responsibilities of being a full-time pastor and honor his professional and service commitments. He says "the joy of the ministry is so great" that he held on as long as he possibly could.

But Hooks, who led the national NAACP for 15 years, says he's "not retiring from life." He plans to continue serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis. He's still active with the NAACP, practices law and is founder of the Children's Health Forum, which works to prevent children from being exposed to lead in paint.

Hooks is also starting a legal-financial clinic to offer advice to the financially troubled.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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