Although he is gone, he will never be forgotten. Reverend Maurice Chauncey Doss, a community and church leader, died Nov. 7 at the age of 58.
Reverend Doss was the senior pastor of Union Baptist Church in Swissvale for 25 years, helping the church grow to more than 600 members before having to step down because of an illness that led to his death.
REV. MAURICE DOSS
“It is so hard to put into words the work that Pastor Doss did. He is truly a ministry icon. No one in this region has done work like he has. He turned a small family church into a regional church,” Rev. Robert W. Tedder, senior pastor of Union Baptist Church Swissvale, said. “He has touched so many lives on a personal level, as well as from the pulpit. He was a mentor and opened the doors to many. The congregation will miss him. He has left a foundation that we’re building upon and his vision will continue to be pursued.”
He was the son of the late Eli and Earlene Simon Doss and brother to seven siblings. In 1972 he married Charolette Poindexter and from their union came Omar, Jason, Vanessa and Margo.
He was a graduate of Peabody High School, where he competed in track, and attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in economics. He also earned a master of divinity degree from the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Even at an early age Rev. Doss had a love for the Lord. He was baptized in 1957 at St. James AME Church, where he served as an altar boy. In 1974, he joined Cornerstone Baptist Church in East Liberty, where he served as a Sunday School teacher and a trustee. In 1982, Rev. Doss accepted his call into the ministry under the late Theodore I. Pollard. And in February of 1983 he assumed the role of pastor of Union Baptist Church of Swissvale, which he served for 25 years until his retirement in November of 2008.
During his ministry at Union Baptist, Rev. Doss established Reach Up Inc., a 501(c)3 organization, which continues to oversee more than 30 separate ministry programs including a community food bank, prison ministry, after-school programs and especially the community counseling services.
Along with his work in the church, he also served the community through his work with various organizations and boards in the Swissvale and Pittsburgh area. Some of them included the National, Pittsburgh and Allegheny Union Baptist associations; The Allegheny Governance Committee; The Swissvale Ministerium; The Rankin Christian Center and the Eastern Area Adult Service Inc. He also served on the Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board.
“He always took a great interest in what was happening in the jail and with the inmates and thankfully, he was a big supporter of mine,” said Allegheny County Jail Warden Ramon Rustin. “He was especially helpful in getting programs started to enhance education and reduce recidivism. He always asked the kind of questions that would help other board members grasp what we were trying to achieve. I went to see him after he initially got sick and he agreed to stay on the board. It’s a shame he’s gone. He was a real nice guy.”
His great work and achievements did not go unnoticed. In 2006, Rev. Doss was voted one of the 50 Most Influential Black Men in Pittsburgh and received the Outstanding Ministers Award from the Allegheny Union Baptist Association in 2009.
“Brother Doss was unique in that he was a preacher of the gospel, he believed in it and he lived it. He treated everyone like they were his brother. He did not look down on anyone. He was like my own brother even though we were not blood,” said Rev. Delano Paige, former pastor of Rodman Missionary Street Baptist Church. “He was a great preacher, teacher, visionary and friend. He never thought small. He had such wisdom. He’ll be missed by the whole community. He was a man of all seasons.”
Reverend Doss was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Florine, and a grandson, Omar Jr., and leaves to mourn his passing, his beloved wife Charlotte; two daughters, Vanessa and Margo; two sons, Omar and Jason; three sisters, Yvonne Doss Hall and Marilyn Doss Harvey of Pittsburgh, Jennifer Sagnelli (John) of New York; three brothers, Rod Doss of Pittsburgh, Lamont (Dolores) of Penn Hills and Antonio (Mara) of Maryland. He also leaves seven grandchildren, Davon, Chavonne, Aria, Ashley, Nia, Elijah and Joshua and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.