MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- The Rev. Peter Wilson, a popular religious and community leader in Mount Vernon, has died, according to a statement from Mayor Richard Thomas.
Wilson, the longtime pastor at Mt. Zion Christian Baptist Church, moved to Mount Vernon soon after graduating high school in Panola, Ala., according to a biography on the church website.
He was active in the religious community for many years before officially beginning his preaching career in 1979. While preaching at the Unity Baptist Tabernacle in Mount Vernon, he attended the New York Theological Seminary, eventually earning a Certificate in Christian Ministry and a Certificate in Advance Preaching over a two-year period, according to the biography. He joined the Mt. Zion community in October 1982 and took over as the church's pastor several months later in January 1983.
"The entire city of Mount Vernon joins me in mourning this deep loss and we pray for the Wilson family, his loved ones and his church," said Thomas in a statement released Thursday. "As an influential member of the Mount Vernon community, he was a mentor, spiritual advisor and community activist whose work touched so many people."
While serving as Mt. Zion's leader, Wilson worked for decades at the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company. According to his biography, he retired from the company in 2004 after 41 years on the job.
According to his biography, Wilson led Mt. Zion to a number of achievements, including the development of an outreach ministry that has worked in Africa, the West Indies and Russia; the formation of the Mt. Zion Christian Baptist Church Scholarship Fund; and the establishment of a Street ministry in Mount Vernon.
Wilson, a lifetime member of the NAACP, also facilitated the church's purchase of several lots near the intersection of 8th Avenue and 5th Street incorporated as Zion Corner, according to his biography.
Wilson also received a number of awards and accolades over the years, including the Certificate of Appreciation from the Westchester County Board of Legislators and the Exceptional Service Award from Mercy House, according to his biography.
According to the church's website, Wilson was in the process of retiring and was to step down from his position officially by the end of the year.
"This level of service is something we should all aspire to," Thomas said. "The Rev. Wilson was a selfless shepherd for his congregation, his fellow faith leaders and the entire Mount Vernon community. He will be deeply missed."