Mount Carmel Baptist is a unique church with a long history. Organized in 1882, Mount Carmel has been a positive and impactful presence in the West Philadelphia community for 119 years. Recently, the congregation celebrated the Rev. Dr. Albert F. Campbell’s 46th anniversary as senior pastor, a joyous milestone indeed.
“I’m very glad to be a part of this anniversary (celebration),” said Robert Taylor, a proud 30-plus-year member of Mount Carmel. Of Campbell, Taylor, a native Jamaican, shared this heartfelt sentiment, “A very good man, and I hope that (he) continues in God’s vision. … God bless you, God loves you, and so do I.”
Anthonia Benson, the wife of the Rev. Kyle Benson, associate minister at Mount Carmel, was elated about the celebration of Campbell. She fellowships at another church, but offered a very personal and warm kudos for him: “We just want to say, congratulations (to Pastor Campbell), it’s been a wonderful 46 years … we love (him) dearly. May God strengthen (him) and Mrs. Campbell and their entire family.” Campbell married the Bensons on Dec. 19, 2010, and their 2-year-old daughter Cassandra was blessed by him.
“Well, he has been the only pastor since I’ve been here. He’s my dad, he’s my big brother,” shared Robert L. Boston, 59, a member of Mount Carmel for 32 years. Boston operates a limo service, and as a gift to honor his pastor’s anniversary, Boston chauffeured the Rev. and Mrs. Campbell around for the day.
Campbell’s impact on Boston has been profound. He works on security at the church, he’s an usher and serves as a trustee, He said the pastor “knows that the Lord has called me to serve, and he allows me to serve in my space.” Boston was recently recognized as trustee emeritus, the youngest in Mount Carmel’s history. He has faithfully served as a trustee for 24 years. Boston relishes the fact that Mount Carmel is a very community-focused church, “We are a community-based church. We’re here for the community … we have … programs for the community.” Along with its strong community programs, Mount Carmel’s church mission is to “Teach, Preach, and Interpret the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“I’ve been a member of Mount Carmel for 65 years,” said Barbara Benson, a stately and genial woman, and the mother-in-law of Anthonia Benson She had very kind words to share about Campbell, “He is a very gracious man, I like how he relates to his parishioners … he is a man of God, and I have learned to love him so much in all these years.” She admires Campbell’s love for children, “He just loves young people, and his interaction with them is really beautiful to see.” Barbara Benson has a servant-leader’s heart, and has a history of serving in a variety of roles with the church; she’s been on the scholarship committee, she sings in the choir, she sometimes teaches Sunday school, “And whatever I’m called on to do, if the pastor asks me, I try to do it.”
Elizabeth Parker, a member since 1950, is the Sunday administrator for Mount Carmel. She offered the following comments about Campbell’s pastoral anniversary celebration: “It’s awesome. We are so blessed to have a pastor like Pastor Campbell … he’s an all-around (good) person.” Reflecting on Campbell’s greatest attributes, Parker, originally from North Carolina, said, “I think the great impact he’s made is his ability to communicate with all ages, from two-years-old, teenagers, seniors, he can relate to all of them.” She laughs when she quips, “I’ve come through all those stages with him.”
Jabrell Thomas, 21, a member for 19 years, said, “It’s good to see that Pastor Campbell being consistent, because so many other churches are going through pastor-to-pastor. It’s good that we can have one pastor to rely on, we can grow with him. He has a lot of personal relationships with his members … he definitely reaches out to people of all ages.” Jabrell’s ministry activism has included the youth basketball team, youth ministry, and the young people’s ushers. He is a senior at Lock Haven University.
“It is amazing to me, I had no idea that my tenure here would last this long,” said the Rev. Albert Franklin Campbell. An erudite and very eloquent man, Campbell, 79, possesses the friendly and endearing charisma of a favorite uncle, a jolly grandfather or loving father figure.
A native of Kansas, Campbell grew up in Colorado, where he met and married his wife Ruth. The Campbells will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on July 6.
Mount Carmel is Campbell’s second pastorate. “My first pastorate was of the Beulah Baptist Church in Central Harlem, on 130th Street between Lenox and Seventh avenues. He was pastor at Beulah for five and a half years before being called to Mount Carmel in 1966.
Reflecting on his 46-year tenure at Mount Carmel, Campbell remarked, “Well, I think I have set some standards of love for people, and genuine concern for people, and also a few standards in terms of academic achievement.” He is a strong advocate of pastors attending college and seminary, “(Seminary is) where they can get the training I feel, is needed, especially now, in this day and age.”
Commenting on the mix of youths and seniors within his congregation, Campbell said, “I have made it a point of trying to have an inter-generational ministry, and that requires me to relate to seniors as well as the youngsters, and I’ve consciously tried to do that. It seems to have worked for me.” Of mentoring other pastors, he said, “I have had the privilege of licensing and ordaining a number of preachers here at Mount Carmel, and I tell them the same thing … they cannot pastor people without loving people.”
“He’s a caring preacher … for a preacher to stay here this long really means a lot, he’s here for the people,” said Edward Robinson, an usher and member since 1989. Robinson considers Campbell a “preacher’s preacher” He admires how Campbell has mentored so many preachers during his 46-year tenure. Robinson’s mother was responsible for introducing him to the Mount Carmel. “I really love it here,” he concluded.
Bishop Keith Reed Sr., senior pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, was the guest preacher for Campbell’s pastoral anniversary service on May 27. After the sermon, Reed offered endearing and Biblical words of encouragement to Campbell, his friend and fellow clergyman, “To Pastor Campbell, I pray that God continues to bless you. Be encouraged, and don’t grow weary in well-doing, you know you’ll reap if you faint not.”