Monica Johnson Mitchell, PhD. Photo provided

By Consuelo Harris

Carmel Presbyterian Church will host its 122nd Anniversary on Sunday, October 15, 2023. This Carmel Day celebration will acknowledge the Church’s continuing “Abounding in Grace, Faith and Love.” 

Carmel Presbyterian Church is the oldest Black Presbyterian congregation in Ohio. Today, Carmel resides in Avondale, but for 39 years, from 1915-1938, Carmel met in a building they built for themselves, using Black contractors, in Cincinnati’s West End. Its history predates the official founding date of June 1, 1901. In 1897, First Church (now Covenant-First), with the assistance of an African-American student at Lane Seminary, engaged in a mission of outreach to Cincinnati’s Freedmen. This endeavor evolved successfully and became its founding as Carmel Presbyterian Church, with a congregation of 12 members. 

After 43 years “at home” in the West End, the congregation was forced to relocate during the mid-1950s to construct the I-75 Expressway. The congregation secured its current site in Avondale on Reading Road.

During the years of worshipping and ministering in the West End, Carmel served the community in many ways, with a trailblazing Credit Union, Girl Scout’s Troops, and a community center led by paid social workers. In the 1950s, members joined the movement to integrate attendance at the Coney Island Amusement Park. In 1966-67, Citizens in great numbers participated near Carmel in the Civil Rights rallies and strategic planning meetings that followed the mass protest featuring activist speaker Stokely Carmichael. Always continuing to serve as a community gathering pace, Carmel welcomed such visitors and speakers as Astronaut Senator John Glenn and Mrs. Glenn, James Meredith, Sen. Sherrod Brown, numerous local legislative leaders over the years, and current Mayor Aftab Prevail and Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Kearney, who often attends Carmel.

Carmel continued its ministries that included an Ecumenical Summer Enrichment Program for youth. Also, Carmel housed a Day Care Center and Infant Development Program with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and a pantry for babies and young children. Carmel continues to host an annual Christmas gift program in partnership with St. John’s Catholic Church in West Chester and Zion Baptist Church in Avondale. 

From the beginning, Carmel has been richly blessed with the leadership of 10 installed ministers and several who served in interim positions. The spirituality, guidance, and faithfulness of these disciples of Christ, Believers, and Doers of the Word, served Carmel Presbyterian Church on its journey to do the will of God.

Monica Johnson Mitchell, PhD will Speak

Dr. Monica Mitchell is a Professor of Pediatrics within the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology and the Senior Director of Community Relations at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Dr. Mitchell also serves as the Co-Director of INNOVATIONS in Community Research and Evaluation. Through her leadership, Cincinnati Children’s provides community health outreach and education to more than 50,000 children and families each year across the region. Dr. Mitchell is nationally known for her pediatric and community-based research. She has been named a YWCA Career Woman of Achievement and a Woman of Distinction from the Girl Scouts of Southwest Ohio. Recently, she received the inaugural Crane Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Research by The Ohio State University. 

Dr. Mitchell is married to Dr. Bengy Mitchell and they are parents of two children, Bengy Mitchell II who recently graduated from the University of Southern California and Melanie Mitchell, a sophomore at Florida State University.

As part of this October Anniversary Celebration, Carmel will host Reading on Reading, Saturday, October 7, 11 am – 2 pm, and The First Lady’s For Health Day on Sunday, October 8, 12:30 – 3:30 pm. Health screenings and flu shots will be available.

Additional information is available at Carmel Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, and

The Anniversary Worship Service will begin at 11:00 am, Sunday, October 15, at Carmel Presbyterian Church, 3549 Reading Road, Avondale, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229. All are welcome.

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