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A closer look: one Hillsborough church

By NAOMI NOVAK, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 24, 2002

Love of Christ African Methodist Episcopal Zion Tabernacle

LOCATION: 2601 S King Ave., Brandon 654-5316.

SERVICES: Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. and is followed by Sunday worship and children's church at 11 a.m. A Bible study is held Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. Children and youth groups meet once a month for ministries and activities.

LEADERSHIP: The Rev. Mozella G. Mitchell founded the church almost 10 years ago. She has a bachelor's degree in English from LeMoyne College in Memphis and a master's degree in English from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. She earned a second master's degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Rochester, N.Y., and a doctorate in literature and theology from Emory University in Atlanta. She has worked as a professor of religion at the University of South Florida for 21 years. She is the presiding elder of the Tampa district of the AME Zion Church and has been nominated to be one of 12 bishops for the church. If elected, she will be the first women ever to serve as a bishop for the church. She has two daughters and two granddaughters.

HISTORY: The church was organized in 1993 under Bishop Richard K. Thompson. It originally met in St. Petersburg and participated in a Sunday radio ministry its first year. Mitchell has led the church since its founding and moved it to Brandon in 1994. The church is a mainline Methodist church that follows all of the ritual and liturgy of the denomination and was developed through the New York City AME Zion Church.

RECENT SERMON TOPIC: "Jesus Cleaning House"


COMMUNITY OUTREACH: The church has established Women at the Well Inc., a single women's support ministry. It also provides support to Metropolitan Ministries, Sheriff's Youth Camp, national Souper Bowl, Tampa District Missionary Society and Florida Council of Churches. It also assists locally with clothing donations and assistance on an individual basis.

QUOTE: "This church has a special mission to become an inclusive church, which is open and encouraging to all races and ethnic groups. We are working on and already have a mixed attendance," said Mitchell. The church is planning multicultural dinners, musicals, and celebrations and uses diverse religious symbols and images in its decorations.

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