History of Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Updated April 2013
It was in December 1976
That a small Christian delegation
Decided the time and spirit was right
To form a new congregation.
They began holding services at members’ homes
And churches here and there,
And prayed each day as they patiently awaited
For the Lord to answer their prayer.
On February 6, 1977,
The Group was set aside
As Mt. Zion Baptist Church,
But now, where would they reside?
Well, for the next 8 months services were held
At Gardner A.M.E.
And members prepared for the day they’d have
Their own facility:
They bought an organ, and a piano
Hymn books and a communion set.
They started choirs and usher boards
And each Sunday, they regularly met.
On November 6th of that same year
There was reason for celebration.
They moved to 368 Bay Street,
The Church’s present location.
They now had members, they had a building
But they needed to give a nod
To someone to lead them, to spiritually feed them
To a man of God.
In May of 1978,
They called such a man,
Rev. Willie Wilkerson’s tenure
As the Church’s first Pastor began.
Under his administration
The Church prospered and grew:
Auxiliaries started; the building was improved,
Some changes to name just a few.
And then, one Wednesday in ‘79
August 1st to be exact,
Lighting struck; the sanctuary was destroyed
But the basement was still in tact.
So it was, the following week
And many weeks from there
Services were held in the lower auditorium,
While the sanctuary underwent repair.
This arrangement did not dampen
The spirit the Church felt and heard,
Choirs still sang; Saints still prayed;
And Reverend still preached God’s Word.
But when the sanctuary was complete
There was no day so grand
Than October 5, 1980,
When they marched into Mt. Zion again.
Oh what a beautiful sight it was
To see the changes made,
A 16-foot expansion
And new carpeting had been laid.
Where there had once been a dropped ceiling
Now A-frame beams were in place.
The entrance changed from Bay Street to Princeton
And a balcony added for space.
One of the few items left, in fact
To remind us of the past
Are the double-hung sanctuary windows
With the dark patterned stained glass.
During the decade of the 80’s
The Church continued to be blessed:
The lawn was landscaped; more items purchased,
And membership steadily progressed.
In ’85 and ‘86
With hard work and lots of prayers,
The Trustees guided the remodeling efforts
Of all the rooms downstairs.
With 12 years of leadership at Mt. Zion
And to our Lord and Master,
In August of 1990,
Rev. Wilkerson resigned as Pastor.
After months of looking for a replacement,
April 1991 ended the search
As the second Pastor of Mt. Zion
Was found right here in the Church.
Rev. Morris A. Goggins, Sr.
Was installed July 21, ‘91
Bringing an energy, a vision
“Holy Ghost Headquarters” had begun.
His appointment at the start of the ‘90’s
Was indicative of things to come.
There were so many blessings those first six years
It’s impossible to list all, but here’s some:
A ramp was built, a sound system installed,
The side parking lot paved;
An electronic piano and computer were purchased
And a lot of souls were saved.
Added for comfort was central air
And cushions for the pews,
And a lighted sign to grace the grounds
Announcing Mt. Zion’s good news.
The Gospel of Deliverance Choir was started
And a boys’ basketball team, too.
And the Nurses Unit was established
As membership steadily grew.
The Church continued to see blessings
As if they were poured from heaven:
Hymn books, a tithing box, and a pulpit cross
Were acquired in ‘97.
Also in 1997
The Church accomplished a great feat!
Under the direction of an appointed committee
We bought property across the street.
What had been just grass and gravel
By year-end was certainly not.
Instead there stood a 10,000 square foot
Fenced and paved parking lot.
’98 was another blessed year--
So many things to mention,
Like the fourth straight year delegates were sent
To the National Baptist Convention.
Or the establishment of two new ministries
Whose purposes were both achieved:
Y.A.M.S. offered activities for Young Adults;
Sharing and Caring comforted the bereaved.
And also in 1998
Our outreach continued to expand
As we were blessed to be able to purchase
A 15-passenger van.
In February of 1999,
Mt. Zion began a mission
To better serve the community
Providing a weekly Soup Kitchen.
In June of that year, an idea was born
To improve communications.
“THE MT. ZION MESSENGER:THE GOOD NEWSletter”
Began monthly publications.
And in December of 1999
To the surprise of the congregation,
Rev. Morris A. Goggins, Sr.
Offered his resignation.
He had accepted another position
And was moving out of town.
Rev. James Williams was named Interim
Until a Pastor could be found.
Under Rev. Williams’ leadership
New baptism robes were bought.
And a 6-foot wire fence was installed
Around the side parking lot.
In the first quarter of 2001,
A Prayer Ministry was proclaimed.
And in April of that same year,
A pastor was named.
Rev. James B. Williams had been elected
The third Pastor by the congregation,
Taking on this leadership role
At his May 2001 installation.
His agenda centered on the Word,
Preaching to the Church as a whole,
But when he was not visiting the sick,
He was praying for each member’s soul.
He was also concerned about God’s House
Like when the baptism water was too cool.
By the end of the year 2001,
The Church had a heated pool.
But the biggest purchase of the year
Was a small parcel of land,
Located adjacent to the rear of the Church
Which in time will allow us to expand.
2002 began just as busy
As a 10-burner stove was bought new,
Track lights were added to brighten the sanctuary,
And new Bibles bought for each pew.
It was also a very special year
As a gala banquet was held
To celebrate “25 Years At the Cross”
At the downtown Marriott Hotel.
In 2003 central air was added
Downstairs in the facility.
In 2004, a 20-year mortgage
Was paid off in only three.
2005 saw a new handicap ramp
And new carpeting installed.
And the Pastor’s office remodeled
With new furnishings and fresh painted walls.
Blessings continued in 2006
With the replacement of each exterior door.
And in 2007 new hymn books bought,
Memorial plaques and more.
In 2008, Rev. James B. Williams
Received his heavenly reward.
On June 30, our beloved Pastor,
Was called home to be with the Lord.
2008 ended with a new roof
Put on the Church.
2009 began by selecting
A Committee for a pastoral search.
The Deacons invited guest preachers in
For the first eight months of the year,
Until an interim pastor was elected
As the end of 2009 drew near.
Rev. Milton White, Jr.
Served two months as Interim Pastor, and then,
Rev. Bert A. Johnson took on this role
For all of 2010.
And all the while, the Church continued
Offering prayers and supplications.
As the Search Committee poured over
Almost eighty applications.
But with God's help and guidance
The Committee got to three
And in the summer of 2010
Brought each in for the congregation to see.
What seemingly looked like it was going to be
A very difficult choice
Turned out not to be at all
As we listened to God's voice.
One name was brought forth by the Committee
One name to the congregation's delight
Mt. Zion's next Pastor elected in October
Was Rev. Atu O. White.
At the 2010 Watch Night Service
Rev. White's tenure began.
And since that blessed New Year's Eve,
"Busy," best describes the man.
In 2011, we remodeled the pulpit,
Bought a new lectern and choir chairs.
A new sound system was installed
Overflow seating set-up downstairs.
A Finance Ministry was established,
A Praise Team created too.
A new piano was purchased
The side rooms made to look new.
On May 21, 2011
Seven months after he was called,
Rev. White received his doctorate
And the next day he was installed.
In front of family and friends,
On Sunday, the 22nd of May.
Rev. Dr. Atu O. White
Became our 4th Pastor that day.
October on the grounds of Mt. Zion
Saw our first Harvest Day event--
A day when we shared food and clothing
With 100+ residents.
At the start of the year--2012,
Our leaders and members too
Were charged by our Pastor to show "excellence"
In all that we say and do.
The tone was set in January
With a class Pastor White taught
On stewardship and being good stewards
Over all that God has wrought.
Training of ushers and choirs followed
To help master skills of both.
While attendance at Wednesday Night Bible Study
Saw incredible growth.
To further enhance the worship experience
More changes were due
We installed new chandeliers in the sanctuary
And uphostered every pew
In addition, we purchased an organ
And a new audio sound board,
And placed screens in the sanctuary
To visually praise the Lord.
One choir ended in 2012
The Gospel of Deliverance dissolved
While Get Connected started its ministry
Of getting members involved.
2013 began with improvements
Just like in the past...
We converted our heating sytem from oil
To more efficient gas.
The baptism pool was painted
As well as the inside stairs.
And for these awesome blessings,
We continued offering prayers.
Another area underwent change
Our Department of Christian Education,
Combining Sunday Scholl with Bible Study
Was a major transformation.
But most importantly, as "A Place
Of Healing, Help & Hope,"
Over 250 souls have been saved
Under Rev. White's divine scope.
And so we continue in 2013
Not knowing what paths we'll trod.
Striving for excellence and having faith
Knowing all things are possible with God.