Bishop Chester Thompson, Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero
Bishop Chester L. Thompson, Jr. is the Black History Celebration Committee’s nominee for the Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero recognition for September 2022.
Bishop Chester L. Thompson, Jr. was born and reared in Hampton, Arkansas. He is a 1966 graduate of McRae High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science in 1970 from Arkansas AM&N College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). He is listed in the 1970 edition of Who’s Who in American College and Universities. He also holds a Master of Religious Education Degree from Andersonville Theological Seminary and an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Arkansas Baptist College.
Bishop Thompson was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, United States Army; Republic of Vietnam. Bishop Thompson is presently the Senior Pastor of the Zion Hill Baptist Church, where he has served for the past 35 years. He is the founder and Presiding Bishop of Agape Christian Fellowship International, comprised of churches in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, Wisconsin, and the West African Nation of Ghana. He has established two Pastoral Peer Learning Groups where other pastors and ministers come together to share, learn, fellowship, and be an encouragement to one another. Bishop Thompson is also the Founder and President of the John Kelly Edwards Bible Institute in Hampton, Arkansas. He has served on the State and National Coordinating Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He also served as the first African American elected Moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas. Bishop Thompson’s church-related activities are very extensive. He has held several positions in the Bradley and Ouachita District Associations, the Consolidated Missionary Baptist State Convention of Arkansas, and the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship Southern District of Arkansas.
His community activities and volunteerism work are youth-oriented. He served as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate in the 13th Judicial District of Arkansas. He received the Friend of Education Award from the Camden Fairview Schools in 1991 and 1992. He was appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to serve on the Arkansas Criminal Detention Facilities Review Board. He was the first African American president of the Camden Noon Lions Club. His love for children is demonstrated through the Zion Hill Christian Academy and The John Kelly Edwards Bible Institute’s “Kidz Crusade Ministry,” a traveling ministry that has shared the Gospel with thousands of children across Arkansas. He also has conducted Youth Employability Workshops for young men during the summer. Currently, he is conducting the JKEBI One Hope Kidz Crusades, where the Gospel is shared, and children are motivated to flourish in literacy of all forms. Bishop Thompson also imparts the gift of giving and helping others through a bicycle ministry, “Riding with a Purpose,” where boys ride, learn the Gospel, and learn how to become men of integrity. He is also involved in a Food Distribution Ministry where they deliver food packages to the elderly and those with the greatest need.
Bishop Thompson has conducted numerous workshops, seminars, and revivals on church growth, prayer, and the Christian Family. He is committed to equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry so that the body might be built up. He is married to the former Bobbie Thornton, a retired educator. He is the father of three children and a proud grandfather of five.