From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
ATLANTA, GA – Handpicked by the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., Joseph Roberts led Ebenezer Baptist Church as its pastor for 30 years. Roberts died Sunday. He was 79.
Born in Chicago, Roberts attended that city’s public schools throughout his childhood and graduated from Knoxville College in 1956. He received a Masters of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City in the 1960s. He then attended Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned a Masters of Theology.
In the early 1970s, Roberts became senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Under Roberts’ leadership, more than 2,000 members were added to the congregation. He launched a community outreach program that included the Teenage Mothers Ministry, tutoring and counseling programs, a food co-op, and a daycare center for older adults.
Roberts envisioned a new sanctuary for the growing membership. In 1999, the building of the Horizon Sanctuary was completed. The 32,000-square-foot sanctuary seats 2,446 people.
He was a recipient of awards from Union Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary. In 2006, Roberts published a collection of sermons titled “Sideswiped by Eternity: Sermons from Ebenezer Baptist Church.”