By Chris Mayhew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON - For 36 years the Rev. Harold Pike's leadership at South Side Baptist Church on Holman Avenue has kept a dynamic force of good in this inner-city community.
"When I first got there, the biggest problem was to convince people we were in a long-term commitment to them," said Pike, pastor of the church and a resident of Villa Hills.
"So many churches were moving out in the '60s and '70s to the suburbs," he said, "the first thing I said when I got there was, 'We will never discuss relocating.' "
Pike said his focus was on helping people not to quit on anything, whether that was school or the struggle against poverty.
"I had to convince my people that they mattered."
Today will be a day to honor Pike's service to the church and the Covington community at the church.
The day will begin with Sunday-school hour at 9:30 a.m.
The pastor will preach his last sermon at 10:45 a.m., and that will be followed by a celebration dinner at Receptions, a banquet hall on Donaldson Road in Erlanger.
What people remember about Pike is how he was always there at the church, teaching Sunday school five evenings during the week, as well as at church services, said Win Gover, chairman of Deacons at the church, and a deacon since 1976.
Gover said that when someone was in need, Pike was there - even if they just need encouragement, a visit or financial help.
"It's hard to put under your thumbnail. He does so much behind the scenes that people don't see," Gover said.
Pike says he has never quit any goal he attempted.
He didn't give up on his idea of buying out the bar next to his church, which South Side Baptist finally acquired two years ago.
The owners originally didn't want to sell, so Pike decided he would become a friend to the owners and became a regular coffee-drinker there.
"Four times a year for 34 years I went and laid my hands on the building and prayed," he said.
It paid off, and the now-remodeled bar is the church's Moore Activity Center.
"It's a community center," Pike said.
"Three groups of AA meet there. Several people who messed their lives up at (the former bar) are now in rehab at the same place."
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