Pastor and First Lady Lee began this journey in 1960. At that particular time, they had three children: David, Jr., Kenneth and Teresa. Pastor Lee began his ministry in the living room of his home with just his family, including his mother-in-law, Geneva Taylor.
Pastor Lee was truly convicted by God as well as chosen by God to spread the Gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His wife and mother-in-law joined with him in this journey to save the loss.
Shortly thereafter, the Zion Hill Mission moved to a “storefront” building on Roosevelt Avenue. It was then that the auxiliaries began to organize such as; the Usher’s Board, Choir and Mother’s Board. It was a struggle but with determined minds and hearts, Pastor Lee believed that anything was possible. As time went on Pastor and First Lady Lee continued to increase their family by adding, Anthony and Calvin and the church family began to grow as well. The location on Roosevelt Avenue was no longer large enough to hold the Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church family so Pastor Lee began to look for a new home for the church. He found a block building not far from the existing church on 19th street and made arrangements to move.
1610 East 19th Street was the new address and compared to where they had come from, this was the ultimate edifice with its leaky roof and a basement where the sewer system would back up into with mud and debris that had to be shoveled out each time there was heavy rain. Pastor Lee decided to build a baptismal pool in the basement so that the church would not have to borrow another church to conduct baptisms. No one cared that when it rained extremely hard the basement would flood 3 to 5 feet of water. No one cared that the smoke from the coal stove would smoke up the church each Sunday in the wintertime. No one seemed to mind that when the Spirit was high and the saints praised the Lord it seemed as though they were going to come through the floor. The Saints were happy with their new home.
There were many names that other friends and loved ones placed on our new church like; “that leaning building”, “the hill”, “the rocking church,” the church with all those kids” and the “sway back church” to name a few. Some names have stuck and are still with us today. As Pastor and First Lady Lee added Davita (who passed away earlier this year 2015), Charles, Jonathan, Joanna, Thomas and Deanna . . .
Although the finances were low, First Lady Lee seemed to find a way to dress her children. She would spend countless hours sewing clothes for her girls and making suits for her boys. She did whatever it took to support her husband and his vision and to take care of her children.
Along with here husband, she too had a love for children and worked hard to develop a children’s choir called the “Sunshine Band”. Some said the choir had a “billion” kids in it, but we didn’t think so and loved to here them sing. They performed plays and many artistic worship and praise renditions under the direction of First Lady Lee. The kids loved her! She sewed for these children as if they were her own. She made them robes, capes, skirts, blouses, you name it. This was a fashionable choir. They always looked good. Pastor Lee was determined to reach the loss at all cost. Once a week all of the saints would come together and canvas the surrounding neighborhoods and the neighborhoods of its members and witness to the residents. There was so much sincerity. There was no shame. We all believed the vision and worked hard to help it to come to pass. Sometimes we would be so pleased with how we were accepted by the residents the joy would overflow and it could not be contained the bus we were riding on. As we sat on the bus discussing how the Lord had blessed those we encountered and how they accepted Christ as their personal savior; some were attacked by dogs, but none bitten, some were attacked by “two legged” dogs but we suffered no loss. Some were received with joy and promises to visit the church. “All Holy Ghost” would break out and the shouting and praising God would began right there on the bus, around the bus, in the seats and in the aisle. We would hurry and carry and drag people onto the bus for fear someone would call the police for fear that we had lost our minds. But we all made it back to church safe and sound where the praises would go up to our most high Priest.
These efforts were not in vain. People began to come from far a near to hear this man that stand “flat foot” and preached the Gospel in a manner that a small child could understand. People came from the north, south, east and west sides of town, and guess what? The church was too small again.
Pastor Lee began using the basement of the church as an overflow. He installed speakers where you could sit and hear the service. Mostly the young people ended up in the basement with supervision. Sometimes the people in the basement would become fearful that the ceiling was going to fall on them from the praises that were going on upstairs because the floor would sway and shake and you could hear it and actually see it downstairs.
So great efforts went into effect to raise finances to payoff the existing mortgage and to acquire adequate land to build a new edifice for God’s people to worship. We were soooooo excited!
The people had a mind to build and the fund raising began. Surrounding properties were purchased and a loan was obtained to begin to build. Once the foundation was set, we had service outside on the cement foundation to show God our appreciation just for the starting of our new sanctuary. Pastor Lee decided to hire members of the church to work with the contractor to build the church. The work began and did not stop. Everyday Pastor Lee and his family would come to the work site and watch the work as it progressed.
June, 1978 the people marched from 19th and Martindale streets to their new sanctuary. By this time there were more than 300 members of the church and their families. We placed prayers of thanks behind the cornerstone and asked God’s blessings upon the people and the building.
The edifice was the most beautiful thing that we had ever seen, with its red carpet and “new to us” pews with padding, pulpit and a choir stand, crystal chandelier lights, new organ. . . We thought we were in heaven. The sound of the voices as they entered the building was a beautiful sound. We thanked and praised God for all the things He had done.
Seven years later the Lord placed on our pastor’s heart to build a fellowship hall for the members to fellowship over meals and the building began. Some thought that we would never finish this fellowship hall that gave the church an “L-shape, but God blessed us to complete it and allowed use for classrooms for our Sunday school. We were so pleased; Pastor Lee cooked a great dinner to celebrate our new fellowship hall.
Friends brought friends, families brought other family members and again the new sanctuary was too small. And the people had a mind to build . . . June 24, 2001 we marched into our new octagon shaped edifice with its royal blue carpeting and new royal blue padded pews, huge stage area for the preachers and the largest choir loft with beautiful royal blue chairs and a baptismal in the sky. We are happy with our new sanctuary and are looking for bigger and better blessing from the Lord. Our old sanctuary has been remodeled and now houses Helping Hands Childcare & Preschool . . . Providing quality care for children. We are preparing our land to build Senior Housing Pods. A very unique senior development Coming Soon!