Reverend Steele began preaching at age eight, and was ordained in the Rock Hill Baptist Church, Gary, West Virginia, at twenty-one. After college, his first pastorate began at the Friendship Baptist Church in Toccoa, Georgia, where he was sometimes compensated with fresh produce – yams, okra, potatoes, and peanuts – in lieu of money.
In 1939, Reverend Steele accepted the call to the Hall Street Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama. He pastored the Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia, from 1945 – 49. He returned to the Hall Street Baptist Church again and served there until he accepted the call to the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Tallahassee, Florida, in 1952.
This was followed by his consistent involvement throughout the 1960s to eliminate racial discrimination in all public facilities – schools, theatres, restaurants, airports, hotels, churches, etc., throughout the South. He often marched with the national black leadership despite being beaten, jailed, terrorized, and harassed.
Dr. Steele also served as state and local president of the NAACP, and worked diligently with the Congress of Racial Equality, the Urban League, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and the Black “militants.” He participated in freedom rides, voter registration campaigns, Resurrection City, the Poor People’s Campaign, and Operation Breadbasket.
In addition to his civil rights work, Reverend Steele had served as the Vice-Moderator of the First Bethlehem District Association, the Bible Expositor of the General Baptist State Convention of Florida, a member of the Board of Directors for the Morehouse College Division of the Interdenominational Theological Seminary, a member of the Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and the Vice President at-large if the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.