Leading the Way from the Hillside

At the golden age of 89, Bishop Dr. Barbara L. King has seen a lot in her lifetime. The founder, minister and spiritual leader of Atlanta’s Hillside International Truth Center has received numerous awards and honors for her ministry throughout the decades, including being named as the first female chief of the Ashante tribe in Ghana, West Africa. She has traveled and spoken around the world during her professional career, which also includes time as a social worker and dean of education. In addition to serving as an ordained minister, King is a widely acclaimed author, former television host and consultant to heads of state, including former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. 

Even while King thrived in her professional career over the years, her involvement in the church has always remained constant. King was called to the ministry at the tender age of 13. 

“I just had divine guidance in me that said I was to be a minister. I just knew in my heart that’s what I was supposed to do,” said King. 

King grew up in the Baptist church and was raised by her grandmother who taught Sunday School. She was very active in her church, serving as an usher, singing in the choir and getting baptized at age 6. However, when Bishop King told her pastor at the time about her calling, his response was that women were not allowed to minister in the Baptist church. She did not let that stop her and preached her first sermon at the age of 15 at a Women’s Day service at Antioch Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.

A proud graduate of two Historically Black Colleges and Universities, King earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Texas Southern University and a master’s degree in Social Work from Clark Atlanta University. She also obtained a doctorate degree in Ministry from the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. 

Her career as a minister at Hillside began when she started a Bible study group with 12 members. That group eventually grew into what is known today as Hillside Chapel and Truth Center, a non-denominational church serving thousands of members and supporters worldwide.

The mission of Hillside centers on a commitment to new thinking for healing hearts and transforming lives as demonstrated by Jesus Christ. 

We believe that everything and every person in the Bible relates to us consciously. What we are forgetting about Jesus is his principles. We praise him as the son of God and death on the cross…but everything he taught can be applied today. Life is consciousness and what he was teaching is how we can live and that’s what we’re about.

All faiths are welcomed at Hillside. 

“We don’t condemn anybody for their belief,” King said. “We should be all teaching love and forgiveness.”

King’s latest recognition was having an interfaith chapel at the world’s business airport named after her by a unanimous vote by Atlanta’s City Council. The chapel at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is located in the Atrium. This latest honor confirms to King that her career path has been worthwhile.

It’s like my soul and my heart opened up and I was able to say, ‘You have done something’.