History of Mt. Zion Progressive
In 1928, a group of community leaders met to discuss their shared ideas of ways to enhance local worship. After devoting sincere thought and much prayer to their decision, the group decided to form a new church. The newly-formed church was named Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, with Rev. Robert Lewis elected as the first Pastor. In addition to the church founders, the majority of the new congregation of Mt. Zionites came from the First Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church located on 22nd Street South.
A search for the location of the new church led to a small frame building in the 900 block of 20th Street South. Worship services and other church related or supported activities continued to be held in this building under the succeeding Pastors, Rev. C. Dean and Rev. J.E. Harris.
Under the guidance of Rev. C.H. Mobley, Mt. Zion was blessed with enlargement of the original sanctuary, construction of a parsonage, and the purchase of two adjoining lots. In 1946, Rev. Mobley initiated construction of a new sanctuary at 948 20th Street South. This building is currently home to the Mt. Zion Children’s Center.
After serving Mt. Zion as Assistant Pastor, Deacon, Trustee, Superintendent of Sunday School, Choir President, and church clerk, Rev. Louis S. McCree, Sr., was called to Pastor. His first-hand knowledge and experience aided in the launch of his vision and served as the foundation for his time as Mt. Zion’s longest serving Pastor.
During his leadership, Rev. McCree oversaw completion of the sanctuary, construction of a new annex, installation of modern kitchen equipment, creation of a kindergarten, bought a van to start a transportation ministry, and purchased three lots for member parking and future expansion. One other major action under Rev. McCree was the purchase of a Hammond organ for the sanctuary. Each of these actions served to increase the level of comfort, worship and service for all.
After the home going of Rev. McCree, Rev. Wilkins Garrett, Jr., became the pastor of Mt. Zion. In addition to sustaining Mt. Zion’s foundation of spirituality, Rev. Garrett sought to enhance Mt. Zion’s ability to meet educational, financial, affordable housing, and social needs of our members and the community
Under Rev. Garrett’s leadership, the current sanctuary, Human Services building, and Family Life Center – adjacent to the sanctuary – were constructed in 1990, 1995, and 1996, respectively. Outreach missions were conducted with the Caribbean World Mission, Ethiopian Ministries, Haiti Ministries, and the Virgin Island Missions. In conjunction with several local pastors, Rev. Garrett was a founder of the IMA Credit Union.
Rev. Louis M. Murphy, Sr., succeeded Rev. Garrett as pastor of Mt. Zion and has dedicated the focus of his leadership to realization of the “Vision” for Mt. Zion. The goal of the Vision is to effect a positive change in our community within a two-mile radius of the church.
While Rev. Murphy continues to inspire Mt. Zion’s membership towards the Vision, he has guided Mt. Zion’s increase in membership, community outreach, and the opening of the Mt. Zion Christian Academy in August 2012. Future plans for Mt. Zion include job training, housing for seniors, internal missions, a halfway house for inmates released from correctional facilities, drug prevention/rehabilitation, and parenting programs, to name a few.
Mt. Zion is on a mission to bring about “effective change” in our community and will do so by going “further in and deeper down.”
Rev. Robert Lewis
Rev. C. Dean
Rev. J. E. Harris
Rev. C. H. Mobley
Rev. Louis S. McCree, Sr.
Rev. Wilkins Garrett, Jr.
Rev. Louis M. Murphy, Sr.