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New hope for Zion Hope

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Along with more souls being saved and a new facility, the arrival of a new pastor can be one of the most exciting events experienced by a church.

Zion Hope Baptist Church, 5950 E. 46th St., will officially celebrate the arrival of its new pastor, Rev. Tony McGee, with special events this Sunday, Nov. 15.

A special installation event will be held at the church at 10:45 a.m. featuring Pastor Michael Johnson, associate pastor of youth at Eastern Star Church, as guest speaker. McGee will officially be installed during a service beginning at 5 p.m. with the guest preacher being Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson Sr., senior pastor of Eastern Star, along with music by the Eastern Star Choir.

“It has already been a truly blessed experience with Zion Hope,” McGee said. “The Holy Spirit led the church in its search for a pastor, and the church family did an excellent job of following the spirit and holding things together. We can definitely look forward to great days.”

McGee brings a wealth of ministry and professional experience that should serve Zion Hope well during the coming years.

Professionally, he has served as a vice-president for Indiana Black Expo, director of development for Health Net, and director of development for Circle City Classic, where he raised over $5 million in sponsorships from 2002 to 2006.

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., James Anthony McGee was an All-American AAU basketball player in high school and earned an athletic scholarship to Indiana State University (ISU). He was preparing for a promising career in athletics until he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a heart condition.

McGee did not let the condition stop his education, and received a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in management from ISU.

McGee began his ministry experience while directing programs at a community led by his childhood pastor, Rev. Cleytus Malone of Terre Haute’s Second Baptist Church. He later became a licensed minister (2001) and was ordained (2004) at Bethany Missionary Baptist Church, where he was assistant to the late Rev. T.L. Hines Jr.

McGee also created community education and outreach programs for the Union District Missionary Baptist Association, which represents local churches affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc., the largest African-American denomination.

In 2006 he joined the congregation of Eastern Star Church, where he became a worship leader, Sunday school instructor and student in the church’s Ministers In Training program, which prepares participants for a career in fulltime ministry.

“I was really blessed by my experience at Eastern Star and the teaching of Pastor Johnson,” said McGee. “I always prayed, but it was there that I learned how to fast. Once I prayed and fasted, I discovered the miracle of having my heart condition healed.”

Today McGee is able to enjoy running and some of the other athletic activities he once enjoyed. However, in his spare moments, he spends most of his time with his family, including wife Kim, daughter Kimara and sons Kaden and Joshua.

Zion Hope is a historic congregation best known by many longtime residents for one of its charismatic pastors, the late Rev. James Wells, who in 1980 co-founded Crossroads Bible College, one of the premiere Christian secondary institutions in Central Indiana.

This year McGee was invited to speak as a guest preacher at Zion Hope, and in June he was hired as senior pastor, replacing Rev. David Hampton, a popular minister who stepped down to accept leadership of a church in New York.

McGee said he would like to use his experience to help Zion Hope become more active, both spiritually and socially.

“I would like for Zion Hope to be a place where people can explore and develop a relationship with Christ. We are dealing with tough economic times and the world is crazy, so people need to have hope in Christ,” said McGee.

“At the same time,” he added, “Zion Hope has to be a church of action for those in need. This area of the city has had to deal with a lot of crime, run down homes and urban blight. We also need to encourage our youth and young adults to make good decisions. We have the opportunity to have a huge and positive impact on this community.”

Many observers believe that McGee and Zion Hope are a perfect fit for each other.

“I think the Zion Hope congregation made a wise choice in selecting Tony as their new pastor. He is a good preacher, he works hard and he is just an all-around good guy,” said Rev. Ronald Covington, pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and moderator (leader) of the Union District Missionary Baptist Association. “I’ve known Tony for at least 10 years and have observed his service, so I know that Zion Hope is in store for a blessing.”

Richard Cooper, chairman of the deacon board at Zion Hope, said the board was impressed immedietly by McGee’s humble and sincere attitude.

“He is someone with progressive ideas who has taken the time to contemplate ways to help our congregation grow,” Cooper said. “We look forward to working with him.”

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