The Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church had its beginning in 1923, being founded and organized by the late Reverend Warren Nelson Fields, his brother the late Peter Fields, and the late Reverend Harold Murphy; totaling three members.
The Reverend Peter Fields delivered the sermon commemorating the founding of the church. Following the message, fifteen persons united with the church.
With the rapid growth of membership, the church relocated to 210 John R Street in 1924. In 1927, adjacent property at 216 John R was purchased for possible church expansion, however, this property was utilized as the church parsonage.
On November 18, 1927, Pastor Fields called a council at which time he ordained Reverend Elijah Benton. In December 1927, Pastor Fields resigned as Pastor, and Reverend Benton was called as pastor of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Not having facilities for baptism, Pastor Benton baptized his first candidate, Mrs. Betty Word utilizing the facility at Friendship Baptist Church.
Under the leadership of Pastor Benton, Sherman Berry served as first Chairman of the Deacon Board. A new organization was formed called the Pastor’s Aid Club formed by Mrs. Alean Davis and Brother Robert Florence who served as secretary. The membership grew steadily from two (2) to approximately five hundred (500) members and work was immediately begun to liquidate the mortgage on the present structure. The total debt was paid off and the mortgage burned on March 1, 1929. During the depression years, the church encountered difficulties in making their payments due to lack of adequate funds. However, the church was successful in getting their payment reduced by securing a new contract with Mrs. Smith, the owner, who gave the church a two thousand dollar ($2000) reduction on the property.
Because of the depression and condemnation of property by the government in the immediate church area, a committee was formed to look for a new and larger church location. Committee members were Brother R. D. Brown, Brother David Miller, Brother Frank Hollman and Pastor Benton. The apartment building on the corner of Blum and Elizabeth was considered, but was found to be too expensive to convert into a church. Directly across the street from the apartment building, the committee found adequate and the acceptable property on which Mt. Zion is presently located.
In June 1941, groundbreaking ceremonies were held. A few weeks later, construction was begun on the first unit of the church at a cost of $17,000.00. At the end of two (2) years, the debt was paid in full and the mortgage burned.
Efforts to increase the building fund for the upper auditorium continued but due to World War II, building and construction was halted and worship service continued in the lower auditorium. In 1948, after the war ended, construction was resumed on the upper auditorium and completed in early 1949. On Palm Sunday, Pastor and Mrs. Elijah Benton led the procession into the upper sanctuary singing, “We’re Marching to Zion.” In 1951, the mortgage on this phase of the building was paid off and the mortgage burned.
The building expansion of the church continued and an Expansion Committee was formed with the following members: James C. Caldwell, Chairman; Isom Hoskins, Vice Chairman and Building Liaison; James R. Wilson, Sr., Finance Liaison; Marshall Williams, Secretary with L. C. Anderson, Henry Goodwin, Sr. and Carrington W. Thomas as members. Properties adjacent to the church on Blum and Vance were purchased for the erection of an Educational Wing and parking lot. On Sunday, June 11, 1972, groundbreaking ceremonies were held. Following a joint meeting comprised of Pastor Benton, The Board of Deacons and Trustees, a contract for $127,745.00 was awarded to The Charles E. Mitchell Company to finish a complete basement and shell of two stories. Construction of this phase of building was started in September, 1972, and was dedicated in April, 1973, with final completion scheduled in early fall.
The Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church was incorporated on July 13, 1972. After forty-eight years and nine months, Pastor Benton retired as Pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. His retirement became effective November 4, 1976, on his 80th Birthday.
Reverend Nathaniel Jones was placed in charge of the services, and on March 7, 1977, was called to Pastor thus becoming the third pastor in the history of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Today we can proudly say that Reverend Nathaniel Jones was the first pastor of Mt. Zion to preach the entire Anniversary Service.
Under the leadership of Rev. Jones, the following was accomplished: (1) purchasing of a new organ (2) purchase of cushions for the pews; (3) paying off the existing balance of the Mortgage Loan in the amount of $36,770.11 (4) burning of the mortgage on Sunday, March 25, 1979; (5) establishing a Nutrition Food Center in Haiti; (6) purchase of a Church Bus; (7) rewiring of the old building; (8) parking lot repairs, etc.; (9) new roofing; (10) remodeling of the ladies lounge; (11) purchase of Lord’s Supper supplies (12) purchase of folding machine in the church office; (13) improvements on the old front and back entry into the church; (14) purchase of furniture and supplies for the Rev. Elijah Benton Memorial Library; (15) purchase of a public address system for the church; and (16) painting of the sanctuary.
In early part of 1992, Pastor Jones was called home to be with the Lord. Later in the year, Rev. Alvin Griffin, Associate Minister at Mt. Zion was called as Interim Pastor.
On November 1, 1993, Brehon L. Hall was called to the pastorate of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. He is the fourth Pastor that was sent by God to feed “His” sheep.
As Pastor Hall said yes to God’s Will, he began to seek and accept the guidance of him who sent him, and was installed in a “Celebration of Jubilee” service on Sunday, March 20, 1994, thereby officially becoming the 4th Pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Under his pastorate we accomplished the purchase of a new Church Bus and complete renovation of the Church. Rev. Hall resigned as Pastor in February 1999.
Wednesday, November 10, 1999. Rev. Talmadge J’Von Thomas became the fifth Pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
Under the leadership of Pastor Thomas a new spirit and energy has been brought to Mt. Zion. He created our mission, vision, and stewardship statements, the statement of faith, the staff ministry concept, and continues to implement new and cutting edge ministries and at the completion of phase one “Together We Build,” visualizing the Imani Center of Health and Wellness; taking us from the campus and creating a city.
In 2005, in line with the vision God has given our pastor, we embraced The City of Zion, Zion being where the Lord resides. Our daily mission is to “Build the Body of Christ through Prayer, Praise and Preaching.”
Under the leadership of Pastor Thomas, City of Zion has been blessed to achieve the following accomplishments: (1) City of Zion recognized as a 501(c)3 organization; (2) purchased four plots of land and its first home; (3) established a community garden (4) burned mortgage on Sunday, October 25, 2009; (5) established the My Brother’s Keeper feeding program; (6) replaced air conditioning units in the sanctuary; (7) cosmetic renovations made on the campus; (8) the Imani Festival, and a host of other things far too many to mention. God is truly doing it here at “the City.”