By Portia Williams
Although Harold Bell Jr. was recently installed as the new pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Bell said he is not a neophyte to Mt. Zion by any means.
“I have served at Mt. Zion nearly all of my life. I was ordained a junior deacon at the age of 13. I served in that capacity until I left the city to attend college. I was licensed to preach the gospel in this fellowship. In 2005, I was selected to serve as the Assistant Pastor. I served in that capacity until December 2012, then I was elevated to interim pastor in January 2013. I was installed as pastor in September 2013,” he said.
He credits any and all success in his life to Jesus Christ, as well as those he regards as spiritual fathers.
“I attribute any success that I may have attained to Jesus Christ. I have had some great spiritual fathers, Pastor Charles Smith. Pastor Smith was the founding pastor and served until his death in 1984, and of course Pastor Damon Robbins. Pastor Robbins served 25 years until his retirement in December 2012,” Bell said.
Bell said the transition to new church leadership has been a pleasant experience for himself and the members.
“It has been a smooth transition, most of the officers of the church I know, and we have had a good working relationship for many years. It is at times overwhelming to think that your are ultimately responsible for a ministry,” he said.
He said he is working in conjunction with his parishioners to create ministries, and revamp existing ones.
“I have expanded some ministries and created new ministries. My wife, Starria heads the Women’s ministry, and assists with the Children’s ministry. My daughter, Tamara works in the music ministry and serves as my personal assistant. We have a Men’s ministry as well. We hope to expand into other ministries once we complete renovations of old facility. Until that time, we provide financial support to other ministries that are equipped to do the work,” he said.
Bell said he wants Mt. Zion to be perceived as a diverse congregation by the community.
“There are many challenges that I face being a pastor in a small community. I want to change the culture of the church. I do not want this fellowship viewed as a black church in the North-End. I want this fellowship to be relevant to all races. Currently, we have a diverse congregation,” Bell said.
Although Mt. Zion is a Baptist church, Bell said the church is closely aligned with the Pentecostal faith.
“We are unique because the church is charted as a Baptist church, but we have a Pentecostal covering. However, we consider our fellowship non-denominational,” he said.
Bell said his ultimate concern and passion lies in seeing people’s lives transformed, and God’s kingdom expanded.
“My passion is seeing lives changes and the body of Christ expanded. I have witnessed enough decay and decline in the city of Portsmouth. My prayer is that the turn around will come to Portsmouth,” he said.
Bell said Mt. Zion is celebrating their 50th Church anniversary this year, and will host some outreach events.
“We are celebrating our 50 year Church anniversary. We are planning a great out reach and revival in October. We want to use our spiritual gifts to reach lost and hurting humanity,” he said.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.