Parishoners at the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Flushing are mourning the loss of former pastor Timothy Mitchell, who died on Jan. 26. Mitchell was 81 years old.
A Flushing native, Mitchell was both baptized and ordained at the Ebenezer church, where his father, James, also served as pastor. Mitchell became pastor of Ebenezer in 1961.
Under his tenure as pastor, the church expanded with the creation of a daycare center and programs to feed the homeless and help senior citizens find affordable housing.
Throughout his life, Mitchell had become known for his activism in the African-American community. He participated in the Georgia Freedom Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1961 and the March on Washington in 1963.
In New York, Mitchell was active in organizing the community against hate crimes and against controversial actions taken by the NYPD. In 1964, Mitchell led a protest against the NYPD following the death of Clifford Grover, a 10-year-old boy who was shot by an undercover police officer in Jamaica.
Mitchell also worked with the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns and David Dinkins’ 1989 mayoral campaign. In 1987, he participated in the “day of unrest” protest alongside Rev. Al Sharpton and City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn).
In 1999, Mitchell led an Easter boycott to protest treatment of African Americans by the NYPD following the shooting of Amadou Diallo.
Mitchell’s activism encompassed national issues and problems that his community faced, such as the fight against privatizing Elmhurst Hospital for which Mitchell went on a hunger strike.
Councilmember Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who had worked with the pastor, said, “There wasn’t a social issue or cause that he wasn’t involved with in some capacity. He was a key activist in Queens and a key catalyst for people to get involved with causes.
“He was a gracious and warm individual who always found a way to make you feel special when he talked to you,” Comrie added.
Bishop Melvin Artis of the Greater Universal Highway Deliverance Church in St. Albans knew Mitchell for 35 years. Artis described him as “a man of action.”
“He didn’t just talk,” Artis said, “He got out from behind the walls and took action to help the community. Whenever anyone needed his help, he was never too busy.
“He was a one of a kind man who will truly be missed,” Artis added.
Mitchell had been in ill health since suffering a stroke in 1996. He retired as pastor of the church in 2008 and was succeeded by the Rev. Calvin Gibson.
Funeral services were held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Feb. 3.
Mitchell is survived by his second wife, Mabel, daughters, Magdalana and Judith, and sons, James and Timothy Immanuel.