DALLAS — This story has been updated throughout with details of the funeral.
Thousands of people packed the sanctuary of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church on Monday to remember Lois Evans.
The First Lady of the Church, who died Dec. 30 from gallbladder cancer, was celebrated and remembered as a woman passionate about faith and helping others.
Evans was married to Tony Evans, a nationally-recognized pastor. Together, they grew Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship from a church of 10 members meeting in a living room in 1976, to a ministry with over 9,500 members.
Friend and gospel music recording artist Kirk Franklin led a musical tribute as Evans’ family entered the church. Every seat in the sanctuary was filled for the nearly two-hour service.
“This is a great lady that went home to be with the Lord,” Brooklyn Tabernacle Pastor Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle told the guests.
Friends who gave tribute say they remember Lois Evans as a graceful and humble woman who made ministry, her marriage and motherhood part of her mission.
"Everyone who knew Lois, knew the Word was her first love. Her husband was her second," said friend Devi Titus.
Her brother, Paul Cannings Sr., told the crowd that they were honoring "the legacy that was placed into the heart of our sister by her parents."
The family was open about Evans' cancer diagnosis. They posted on social media asking for prayers.
Her relatives said Evans was often emotional when she read the words and prayers people sent her.
She was remembered Monday as a woman of faith.
“Your sweet grace, welcoming presence, and calm demeanor has marked my life forever," said Barb Bailey.
Faith leaders from Dallas-Fort Worth and from across the country gathered for the Celebration of Life. Gospel recording artists Beverly Crawford and Kathy Taylor were among those who shared musical tributes.
Many said Evans was the backbone of the church. They say she was kind, passionate about providing a safe space for other pastors’ wives, ministering to those in need and helping the community.
Tony Evans posted on his Facebook page about his wife's death. He called her the love of his life.
Lois Evans was surrounded by her family when she died, Tony Evans said. The Evanses had four children – Chrystal, Priscilla, Anthony, Jr., and Jonathan – as well as 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.