‘Zion baby’ is new spiritual leader of Historic Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church

·5 min read

There are times in our lives when something wonderful happens to our children, or to our friends’ children and you wish everyone could share in the happiness. Sunday, Oct. 10, was such a day for the Rev. Alaric K. Hunter and his wife Iris Elaine Waters Hunter and their family and friends. It was the day the Rev. Hunter was installed as the 10th pastor of the 125-year-old Historic Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Overtown. As the new spiritual leader of the church Hunter, himself, made history by becoming the first pastor of the church to have been a “Zion baby,” meaning he was “born and bred” in the church.

“We are both Zion babies,” Hunter’s wife said. “Our mothers were expecting the same time — I was born in July and my husband was born in September. We were both Christened and baptized there and almost 40 years ago, we were married there.”

As a boy growing up in a churchgoing family, Hunter said he used to like to “play” church. “I remember always enjoying the fellowship at church and I loved the Sunday school lessons and way Rev. Graham [Edward] told Bible stories. When we played church, I was always the preacher. My friend, Andrew Wilcox, would be the deacon,” he said.

Back then, Hunter was just “playing” church. Little did he know the day would come when his days of playing church would become a reality — that he would be a pastor and his friend would be a deacon. While he never dreamed of becoming the pastor of Mt. Zion, Hunter believes this day was always in God’s plan for him.

It wasn’t until he was in the military in 1996, that he said he was called to the ministry. “I fought the notion,” he said, “but God had His hands on me.”

Rev. Alaric K. Hunter and his wife Iris Elaine Waters Hunter are anointed on Oct. 10. The Rev. Hunter was installed as the 10th pastor of the 125-year-old Historic Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Overtown.
Rev. Alaric K. Hunter and his wife Iris Elaine Waters Hunter are anointed on Oct. 10. The Rev. Hunter was installed as the 10th pastor of the 125-year-old Historic Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Overtown.

However, the road back to Miami and Mt. Zion had its twists and turns. Life took Hunter on a tour in Iraq, where he found himself ministering to the other soldiers. He retired from the military after he was wounded in action and was medically discharged. “That’s when I became a full-time minister,” Hunter said.

After he was discharged, the couple settled down in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Hunter entered film school, and later he entered Jacksonville Baptist Theological Seminary. But for some reason, they said they both felt the calling to come back to Miami.

“God kept tugging at us to come home,” his wife, Iris, said. “We decided to follow the Lord’s leading and now God has taken us on a new journey, one where we will be able to help build the Kingdom of God. God has brought us full circle. We are right back where we started… we are home.”

Sunday’s service was filled with praise and worship, with lots of music. The Rev. Richard Dunn II served as the presiding officiant and the Rev. James McQueen prayed. The Rev. Dr. Gary E. Palmer of New Hope Community Church in Ayer, Massachusetts, preached the installation message.

It was a glorious time on a glorious day, Iris Hunter said. While Hunter’s father, Deacon Willie J. Hunter, was there to see his son become the pastor of one of Miami’s iconic churches, Iris said, “I just wish our mothers could have lived to see this day.”

The Hunters are the parents of four sons and eight grandchildren.

‘Summit in the Park’ puts domestic violence in spotlight

According to statistics, 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetimes. Because of these statistics, and because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, at 3 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Irene Lieberman Botanical Gardens in Lauderhill,, there will be an event to help educate the community about domestic violence.

Hosted by Charlene Bouie, founder of “Coffee Break with Charley,” and Denise Grant, vice mayor of Lauderhill, the event is entitled “The Summit in the Park” and is an all-white-attire affair. The program will include a panel discussion and several domestic-violence survivors will be honored.

According to a press release, domestic violence is a leading cause of injury to women, and “Coffee Break with Charley” aims to be a constant testimonial to raise awareness for victims and those who are living in silence of abuse.

The botanical gardens is located at 3801 Inverrary Blvd. in Lauderhill. Tickets are $99 each and can be purchased by going to www.coffeebreakwithcharley.org

Jewish Community Services CEO receives Diversity and Inclusion Award

Miriam Singer, CEO of the Jewish Community Services of South Florida
Miriam Singer, CEO of the Jewish Community Services of South Florida

Congratulations to Miriam Singer, CEO of the Jewish Community Services of South Florida, on receiving the 2021 Ella Pierce Diversity and Inclusion Award. She was presented the award on Sept. 11 at a North America Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California, where over 300 colleagues were in attendance.

Singer said she is “grateful and honored” to have been the recipient of the award. “Diversity, equity and inclusion have been a key calling throughout my career in governmental and nonprofit agencies for close to 40 years. I am humbled by this recognition…”

Singer began her career as a social worker with domestic violence survivors and justice involved refugees and has been in public service in the Miami-Dade community for 35 years. She currently serves as the president and chief executive officer of Jewish Community Services of South Florida, a faith-based community nonprofit organization that provides safety net health and social services through 40 programs to residents in every ZIP code in Miami-Dade County.

In addition to other duties, Singer also serves as the chair of finance for the national council of the American Society for Public Administration.

Mt. Hermon AME to offer ‘Hallelujah Night’ for children on Oct. 31

Parents, if you want to make sure your children are safe on Halloween night, consider Mt. Hermon AME Church of Miami Gardens’ Drive-Thru Hallelujah Night.

The church at 17800 NW 25th Ave., Miami Gardens, will have Hallelujah Night from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31. The event will be a Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat Event and will feature treats, music, a photo booth and prayer. Youngsters are asked to wear their “positive and inspiring” costumes and take selfies at the photobooth station.

Participants are asked to mask up and remain in their cars. For more information call the Rev. Avian Wise at 305-621-5067.

Bea Hines can be reached at Bea.hines@gmail.com.

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