Interview, Ophelia B. Holmes

March 7, 1978

Ophelia B. Holmes (1922-2002) was born in Magnolia, Mississippi, to a family of fifteen children. Her parents were poor farmers. As a child, Holmes only received a grade-school education, but has since attended night school and is self-educated. She moved to Rochester in 1966 with her husband, Joseph, who was a bishop in the Rock of Ages Spiritual Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Holmes became a minister in this church in 1969. Before becoming a minister, she held jobs as a missionary, deaconess, cook, bus driver, elevator operator, and field laborer. At the time of this interview, Holmes was also a foster mother and worked for the Baden Street Settlement. She passed away on July 30, 2002.

In this interview, Holmes discusses her church’s role in the community and her plans to expand the services it provides to African Americans in Rochester. She recalls that when she first came to Rochester, there was little-to-no community programming for blacks, but that her church has attempted to fill that void, growing to include six teachers and lawyers to help local people. She says the whole point of a church is to help people and that her goals include expanding youth programs to keep children off the streets and developing other services to help different groups in the city.

Content Tags


  • 1970s