ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Bishop Barbara Lewis King will soon be recognized with a special honor at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The 87-year-old reverend is considered a trailblazer for women in ministry and soon, one of the Interfaith chapels at the airport will bear her name.
"This touches me in a way I can't explain. People use excited or overwhelmed, but it's not that. It's that my soul opened up," Dr. King told FOX 5's Portia Bruner.
The Houston native decided at a very early age she wanted to be a Baptist preacher, but her ministers told her that wasn't a role a woman could take in the church.
"They told me I couldn't do that and I believe that for a long time, but I still had a desire to serve," Rev. King said.
King would eventually change denominations and join the interfaith New Thought Movement. She founded Hillside International Truth Center in 1971. The congregation grew quickly and pooled their resources to expand their chapel on Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta.
But with growth, came increasing criticism from men and women who didn't believe a woman should be in the pulpit.
"They said I was too strong and too intimidating, but I just kept going," said Bishop King, who was 81 years old when she finally earned her Ph.D. in ministry.
Ministers actually told their congregations they would go to hell if they came to visit my church. Some preachers wouldn't even let me speak when I was invited to give a eulogy for a funeral. They gave me a rough time," she told Bruner.
Today, King still preaches every third Sunday and said she is honored that a little chapel in the world's biggest airport will bear her name and perhaps Inspire other women to pursue their dreams.