Zion A.M.E. to welcome new minister today

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 12, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Touching the lives of children with the Word of God is a top priority for the new pastor at Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Birdon Mitchell Jr. was appointed pastor at Zion Chapel in December, replacing the departing Arthur Brown.

Mitchell, continuing to reside in Yazoo City until his children are out of school, will move to Natchez with his wife, Debra, and their children, two of whom are in graduate school and college, ages 22 and 19. Their three youngest children are 18, 13 and 11.

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Today, 4 to 6 p.m., the community is invited to the church to attend a reception for Mitchell and his family.

&8220;I want to make our congregation a leader in the community,&8221; Mitchell said by phone earlier this week. &8220;I want to set goals for our youth and get all our congregation members to be role models as Christians in their community.&8221;

When children understand and accept the Christian Word and the responsibility, the congregation will grow, Mitchell said.

&8220;If we can get them to see the need to serve God, our adults should see it, too,&8221; he said.

Mitchell, a Yazoo County native, received a call to ministry in 1980. He attended Bonner-Campbell School of Religion from 1980 to 1984.

He holds a doctor of divinity degree from Southwestern Christian Theological School as well as a B.S. in criminal justice from Mississippi Valley State University.

He has held appointments as pastor to Bethlehem AME Church in Winona, Bethel AME Church in Yazoo City, Turner Chapel in Greenwood, Allen Chapel in Sidon and Bethel AME Church in Brookhaven, where he served for nine years.

&8220;I&8217;ve been received very well in Natchez,&8221; he said. &8220;I&8217;ve met many other ministers in the area.&8221;

The work is going well, he said. &8220;Natchez is a nice place to be, and the congregation and I are adjusting to each other.&8221;

He looks forward to celebrating 25 years of serving in the ministry in December.

&8220;I hope our congregation can inspire others with their actions to love and serve God,&8221; he said.