Citadel of Hope Mission (COHM) was founded in 1972 by the late Rev. Mother Geraldine Powell, who truly loved God, loved winning souls for Christ and teaching God’s Word to ensure the believers’ ability to live a successful Christian life. Citadel of Hope Mission began in her apartment on Springdale Ave in East Orange NJ with a handful of people. The home was owned by her son and daughter- in- law William and Muriel Barnett. There was never a sign put on the front of the house to indicate there were church services being held inside, only the praises of God, the songs of Zion, the spoken Word of God that was preached and taught declared it.
This is the story of this church’s remarkable beginning. Mother Powell suffered a severe car accident that crushed her feet and the doctors said she would never walk again. She was a woman of faith and refused to accept that prognosis. Weeks went by without much improvement, but Mother Powell’s unwavering faith that God could and would perform a miracle never faltered. During her convalesce period; she was determined to do God’s work. So she made up fliers that stated she was going to teach Sunday school in her home and gave them to her nieces, Donna and Virginia (Jenny), to pass out in the neighborhood. On the following Sunday, a small number of people attended. Sis. Chinac Green and her children, along with Sis. Ceola Harris with her niece and nephew were the first to attend the Sunday school. Each week as the Sunday school grew, the question became "Since we are already attending Sunday school, why don't we just have church service here too?"
Once she had the assurance that this is what God wanted her to do, she began church service in her apartment. She asked her son, Pastor Bill, to come and help her in this work. Pastor Bill already had a prior commitment, in which he was doing the Radio Tape Ministry and playing the organ for another church. He told his mother that he could not just leave that church obligation. Mother Powell said, “Well I’m going to pray.” So she and the other members did exactly that, took it to God in prayer.
On the following Sunday, Pastor Bill went to that church and the usher summoned him to the pastor’s office. Once he was in the pastor’s office, Pastor Bill was told his services would no longer be needed. He was told that God had sent them a gifted young man that they wanted to play for them. God answered prayer.
The bible states that Apostle Paul taught for a season in a house; Mother Powell also did for a period of 2 ½ years. During this time, God performed a miraculous healing in her feet. As COHM continued to grow, every room in the house was filled, even the staircase leading to upstairs. Parking became problematic for the residents of the area. Eventually, a petition to have the church closed was started, but God already had a plan. Mother Powell learned from one of the members, Sis. Hellen Sparrow that there was an empty church building that the Lutheran Organization owned. Mother Powell inquired about it and was met with strong opposition. She was told that the building was going to be given to the city.
She tried to explain her vision to use the building for the Glory of God, but they refused to discuss it with her. Mother Powell then asked her son to call, thinking maybe a man's voice would cause them to reconsider. However, he too met the same resistance and their answer remained a flat “No”! Mother Powell did not give up. The members prayed fervently that God would move in this situation. Mother Powell, her son Pastor Bill and several believers went, laid hands on that building and claimed it. God honored the prayers and the faith of his children and performed a miracle through a chain of events. Evangelist Missionary Mary Smith's obedience was very instrumental in those events. Evangelist Missionary Mary Smith was on a furlough from the mission field of Africa and had to attend to some matters before returning there. On this particular day, it was rainy and cold outside. As she was driving down Bloomfield Avenue, she saw a lady who looked wet and cold. The Spirit of God spoke to her heart and told her to turnaround and give her a ride home. She was obedient. Once arriving at the woman's home, she met the woman's husband, Michael. Evangelist Missionary Mary Smith invited them both to attend church service; which they did. Mother Powell and Michael became good friends. God always has a plan and is working behind the scene on behalf of his people.
The situation with neighbors and parking continued to become more and more problematic. As Mother Powell sought the Lord for guidance in this matter, the Lord spoke to her and instructed her to call Michael. She pondered within herself, what can he do and he's at work right now. But the Spirit of God continued to prompt her to call him, so she picked up the phone and called him. When he answered the phone, she told him "I don't know why I'm calling you, but there is a church building at 70 North Grove Street that is empty, which we would like to buy." She continued to explain how the minister there refuses to talk with us about it. Michael then asked Mother Powell what his name was. Once she told Michael his name, he told her that he was a good friend of his and that he would arrange a meeting with his friend to come and preach at our church. Mother Powell told the church members to pray that God would touch this man in such a powerful way that he would never be the same again. He thought he was just coming to a little house church, but he had no idea of the power of the Holy Ghost that filled it! Once God got through moving upon him, he was as red as a beet! He exclaimed that nobody will have that church, but Mother Powell! When the neighbors came to enforce the petition for us to vacate and cease having services there, God had already given us the building we now still worship in today. Not only did God give us the building but caused the deed to be paid off quickly. Numerous lives have been touched and various ministries have been birthed and influenced through Citadel of Hope Mission that still exist today. To God be the glory for the great things He has done!
Today, Citadel of Hope Mission continues to flourish and grow as God is still moving by His Spirit. Mother Powell's mission is still being fulfilled through her son Overseer Rev. William J. Barnett (Pastor Bill), her grandson Pastor Rev. Wade Barnett, with the support of other family members along with the church family of Citadel of Hope Mission.