Our Rich History in Cincinnati

A brief history by Ms. Consuelo Harris…

“For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you.” Deuteronomy 4:32

The history of Carmel Presbyterian Church predates the official founding date of June 1,1901. In 1887, First Church (now Covenant-First), with the assistance of Russel Taylor, an African American student at Lane Seminary, engaged in a mission of outreach to Cincinnati’s Freedmen. This endeavor evolved successfully and was elevated to be founded on June 1, 1901 as Carmel Presbyterian Church, with a congregation of 12 members.

From the beginning, there were difficulties in finding suitable places in which to worship. The members persisted however and maintaining trust and faith in God, they began a building fund that ultimately enabled them, in the summer of 1915 to move with great ceremony and celebration, into their newly constructed church home at 9th and Lynn Streets in Cincinnati’s West End.

During the years spent worshipping and ministering in the West End, Carmel members served the community in many ways. Members were engaged in the church’s organizations such as the Deacons, Sunday School, Woman’s Auxiliary, Choir, Junior Choir, Men’s Brotherhood, a trailblazing Credit Union, Westminster Fellowship, Girl Scouts and Ushers. Fond memories remain of the impressive variety of activities offered at Carmel’s Community Center, led by a paid social worker.

Outstanding among activities that involved the membership were the efforts undertaken to join with the picketers and demonstrators in the movement to integrate attendance at the popular amusement park, Coney Island.

After 43 years “at home” in the West End, the congregation was forced to relocate due to the construction of the I-75 expressway. No effort was spared in securing a new church home, resulting in the move to Carmel’s current site on Reading Road in Avondale.

Undaunted by assorted challenges, Carmel has continued to worship, serve, evangelize and minister in the community.

Christian Education has always been a vital focus in Carmel’s ministry. Youth programming covered many facets of the care and nurturing of children. Outstanding in the array of offerings such as Sunday School, Junior Choir, Westminster Fellowship were the Ecumenical Summer Enrichment Programs offered annually for over two decades.  Carmel has housed a Day Care Center, an Infant Development Program in conjunction 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.

In carrying out its Christian witness, Carmel has made part of its mission to serve our community. Just as the highly-rated “Summer Program” has included the larger population, so have involvements over the years been well-known beyond the sanctuary. Accounts of Carmel activities have become legendary when shared through the generations. There were extremely popular Jazz Concerts held on summer Sunday afternoons in the Parish Hall – spilling over onto the side porch. Crowds also filled the Hall when theater performances, produced by Nikki Giovanni were presented. Citizens in great numbers participated in Civil Rights rallies, strategy and planning meetings that took place during 1966-67. Perhaps most memorable was the mass rally featuring activist speaker Stokely Carmichael.

Always continuing to serve as a community gathering place, Carmel has welcomed such visitors and speakers as Astronaut and Senator John and Mrs. Annie Glenn, James Meredith, and Senator Sherrod Brown.

Mention was made of Jazz Concerts at Carmel and entertaining as they were, they primarily served as pleasing diversions. The importance of music in the spiritual life of the church cannot be overstated.  Carmel has been favored with Ministers of Music and choir members who served with loyalty and dedication through their invaluable musical contributions to the worship life of the church.  Most recently this small, strong gifted group has acquired the description,“The Mighty Voices of Carmel.”

From the very beginning, Carmel has been richly blessed with the leadership of 10 installed ministers as well as several who served as Stated Supply. The spirituality, guidance, faithfulness of these disciples of Christ, believers, and doers of the Word, singularly and collectively served Carmel Presbyterian Church on it’s a journey to the will of God.