Rev. A. Carl Prince, a second-generation, ordained Baptist minister, will bring his talents to Zion Baptist Church as its new pastor according to an anonymous church source.
The election was held this past Sunday to confirm Prince, but at this present time, no one at Zion was prepared to go on the official record.
“At this point and time, it’s a little premature. We just had the election on Sunday. So, we really don’t have anything to confirm,” a church officer said.
“There will be a time when an official statement will be made, but at this time, we really can’t confirm anything.”
The unauthorized source said a considerable majority confirmed Prince.
Prince will be looking to extend the church’s legacy of dedicated pastors who have a pulse on the community. Throughout his ministry, he has been an advocate for the urban underclass by promoting numerous initiatives that would aid in their plights. He has also been speaking truth to power since an early age and has provided leadership to the historic central Virginia Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.
Additionally, Prince is a 21st-century pastor who has excelled in fusing technology with praise. His thesis, “Beyond Social Irrelevancy, Reclaiming Young Adults Age 18–30 to the Church: Our Technological, Ecclesiological and Existential Imperative,” is the linchpin of his candidacy for a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Howard University School of Divinity.
Prince’s education includes the completion of the Scholars Program in Theology at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England.
Prince is published, and his works include “Simply Marvelous,” a sermon published by the U.S. Library of Congress.
A Virginia native, Prince is the son of the late Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Walter R. Prince Sr. and was reared in a strong, Baptist family.
Prince is also a graduate of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University with a Master of Divinity degree.
While serving as an assistant to the pastor at a large church in Richmond, Prince was assigned to carry the gospel to the airwaves and was heard on the air at CBS affiliate WTVR YV 6 in central Virginia.
At Virginia Baptist, Prince was leading the congregation in a multi-million dollar capital campaign, and with his visionary ability he orchestrated the largest vacation bible school in the community.
Prince has served on several municipal boards and commissions. He blends preaching with pragmatism to connect the dots between faith and social empowerment. His work in urban settings combines advocacy and entrepreneurial endeavors to create self-help programs for the under class and middle class.
Prince will be coming to Zion with his wife, Princess M. Prince, of Durham, North Carolina.
Zion, located at 3600 N. Broad St., was founded in 1882 and was started as a missionary prayer meeting in 1882 by Rev. Horace B. Wayland. Zion has made its mission to be a church carrying out the mission of the covenant. A handful of pastors have led the congregation with this priority, including the late Leon Sullivan who was hailed as the “Lion of Zion.”
Under his leadership, membership grew into the thousands, and various programs were initiated such as a daycare center, employment agency and credit union. After his retirement in 1988, Rev. Gus Roman, who added to Sullivan’s contributions through his own efforts such as the Zion Center for Corresponding Biblical Studies, weekly Bible study and spiritual retreats, succeeded him.
Philadelphia has a plethora of famous pastors and renowned churches. Zion Baptist Church is arguably one of the most highly esteemed churches in the city and internationally, due largely to the late great “Lion from Zion,” the Rev. Leon Sullivan. Now Zion has a new senior pastor elect, the Rev. A. Carl Prince, and he has the spiritual DNA, the brilliant intellectual aptitude, and the social consciousness to advance Zion to new heights of ministry success.
Prince was called as pastor elect of Zion in January. Shepherding a church with such a far-reaching and prestigious history does not intimidate Prince, “This is nothing new to me, urban ministry is my forte. I served in Virginia in a church with over 6,000 members, which was Cedar Street Baptist Church of God, in Richmond,” under the leadership of the late Rev. Benjamin Robertson, said Prince.
“Cedar Street Baptist Church of God “was a multilevel and multifaceted ministry that had tentacles throughout the nation. It had its own seminary, it had its own grocery store, it had its own daycare. It had multiple ministries and multifaceted ministries. And so, coming to Zion, having been a former city official, the first Black elected city official for the city of Richmond, in the commonwealth of Virginia, I came to Zion prepared for this process, this pastorate. Zion has a rich history internationally, due to Dr. Sullivan, and all he did with OIC,” he said.
Prince respectfully acknowledges and reveres the great ministry legacy of Sullivan, and he has an equally impressive vision for the church, “I come with a strong practical theology that integrates inspiration with social transformation, I think that may have been one of the positives” that bolstered his candidacy to lead Zion as its new senior pastor.
“Zion’s legacy has always been integration versus isolation, and so I’m going to be very interested in living out that legacy, to the extent that we can establish partnerships with the city of Philadelphia, establish partnerships with the governor’s mansion, establish partnerships with the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., establish partnerships with the international community, not just in Africa,” including Asia, Latin America and Europe”, said Prince.
The Rev. Raymond Blue, a member for 35 years, said one of his greatest life highlights at Zion was being licensed to preach. Blue was one of the youngest deacons ordained under Sullivan’s leadership, “I served as vice chairman of the deacon board (and) I was one of the youth leaders…” Blue believes that reaching out to the lost in the community is one of the highest priorities of the church, “to teach and preach the Word of God.”
Kenneth and Cynthia Fullenwellen are a happily married couple and longstanding members of Zion. They are involved in supporting the youth ministry. Commenting about their longevity at Zion, Cynthia said, “I was born at Zion, I’ve been there 53 years.” Her husband Kenneth said, “I’ve been a member for 22 years, since 1990.”
Cynthia affectionately recalls the leadership of Sullivan, “He didn’t allow people to get in the way of his vision, he didn’t allow people to become stumbling blocks between him and the mission that God gave him to do.”
Commenting on Prince’s teaching and preaching style, Kenneth said, “He has a lot of energy, he preaches to the young people, the senior members – the whole group. He tries to get everybody involved…he treats everybody like family.”
The Fullenwellens admire Prince’s passion for community outreach. “Last weekend we had our first community day…the kids were excited, we had pony rides, water slides, a bouncey-bounce,” music, food, free haircuts and school backpack and school supplies giveaways, said Cynthia. The Fullenwellens said more than 500 youths and adults from the community participated in Zion’s community day event.
Nijah Richard Debrest, 26, a very articulate and focused young man, has been a member of Zion for over 15 years. His past ministries have included being the former director of the Junior Golf Ministry, “I also ran on the track team, and I was also part of the choirs.” As a single Christian, Debrest considers secular music, obeying the Word of God, and promiscuity some of the challenges that his peer group grapples with, “People my age say that it’s not necessary to be in a relationship; they’re risking a lot…looking for short-term satisfaction.”
“I’ve been a member for about 10 years,” said Destiny Green. Over the years, Green, 26, has served in leadership roles for the youth ministry and youth choir, “I set up different youth programs, to try to get more youths (to attend church), to show youths that they can have fun while we’re in church, we’re not all stuffy.” Her youth-oriented ministry activities include a Christian café, open mic events, youth sleepover with games, movies and someone sharing the Word of God.
Frank Richardson, Jr., 49, is the newly appointed chairman of the deacons board, “I’ve been a member of the church since 1993,” he said. “I was young and adventurous” and he didn’t have a solid faith-walk at that time, but “in 2001, after reading a book called ‘’Left Behind’’ (by Tim LaHaye), I rededicated myself (to the Lord).” Richardson cites Zion’s former television ministry as one of its most impactful community outreach endeavors. Also, during Sunday morning services, “we take 15 minutes to greet one another, especially our visitors. We give our visitors the opportunity to speak to our congregation, to share where they’re from and what brought them to Zion,” said Richardson.
In celebration of Prince’s installation, every Thursday in September Zion will host a guest preacher t during a 7 p.m. service, culminating in the actual installation service on Sunday, Sept. 30. Guest preachers will be:
On Friday, Sept. 28 Millicent Hunter, presiding bishop of the Baptist Worship Center, will be the keynote preacher for the installation gala. On Sunday, Sept. 30, the Rev. Edmund H. Whitley Sr., pastor of Hood Temple AME Zion Church, Richmond, Va. (father-in-law of Prince) will preach the 10:45 a.m. service (NOTE: There will not be a 7:45 a.m. service that Sunday); Dr. H. Beecher Hicks Jr., from Metropolitan Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., will be the keynote preacher for the 4 p.m. installation service. Emma Chappell is the chairwoman of the installation committee.
After an international search, historic Zion Baptist Church on Broad and Venango in North Philadelphia has a new pastor. The Rev. A. Carl Prince, of Virginia, was installed during a grand celebration and installation service Sunday attended by hundreds of congregants, clergy and members of the community.
With the theme “Celebrating the sacred marriage between pastor and people,” the service was the eleventh pastoral installation at the church and expressed Pastor Princes’ vision of making the church responsive to the community in which it resides.
“Today’s event was a culmination of our pastor and people celebration,” said Rev. Prince, who added that a series of services were held leading to his installation.
“Zion’s impact in the community is very significant historically and so I am trying to build the legacy of leadership in terms of empowering people in terms of reaching the urban underclass,” said Prince.
Prince spoke about a meeting with Councilwoman Cindy Bass to discuss ways to resolve the problem of crime and violence which has become far too common on Philadelphia streets.
“There are 300 murders in the city of Philadelphia at this point and I think the number one priority at this point is crime and violence,” he said. “I know that is the mayor’s priority, I know that’s city council’s priority and I know that it is going to be my priority.”
Under the late Rev. Leon Sullivan, the church served the underprivileged through various initiatives and institutions such as the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) and succeeding in opening the first Black-owned and operated business center, Progress Plaza, in America. Prince hopes to continue fighting many of the obstacles Sullivan faced.
“I think we have to look at the issue of unemployment, I think we have to look at the issue of more educational issues that we’re dealing with,” said Prince, who noted that he would like to continue the legacy set by his predecessors at Zion.
Prince points to a recent job fair held at the church during which he said more than a thousand applicants attended with hopes of finding employment. Another example of continuing the legacy of social relevance was a book bag giveaway in which he says over five hundred students were given book bags for school.
“Each Sunday our Care Ministry ministers to the urban underclass, the untouchables of society because we know that God loves them… we ought to touch them as well as feed them and clothe them,” said Prince.
Prince said that the installation process began with the prayers of the congregation who subsequently launched a national search of over 260 applicants. According to Prince, he was selected by more than two-thirds margin.
“Whenever a pastor comes together with people it is a sacred marriage,” he said. “It is sacred because God has brought us together.”
In fact, during a gala held at the Hilton Hotel on City ave. to celebrate the installation where an estimated four hundred people attended, the pastor’s wife wore her wedding dress to symbolize this marriage with the people.
Dr. Emma C. Chappell, who chaired the installation committee, has been a member of Zion for over fifty years said that the grand service was five months in planning and consisted of two services, one morning and one in the afternoon. During the afternoon service, ministers from churches around the city gathered around the newly installed pastor and prayed for him, promising their support.
“I see a lot of similarities,” said Dr. Chappell when asked if she saw any similarities between the newly installed pastor and Rev. Sullivan. “Even some of his mannerisms are very much like Leon Sullivan’s.”