The First Church
Mount Zion A.M.E. Zion Church of Elizabethtown, NC, had its origin on the site of the present location of the old Bladen County Training School. In the year 1869, on the 17th of May, for the sum
of one dollar, a parcel of land to be used for the erection of a church was deeded from Thomas D. McDowell and Mary Eliza McDowell to E.D. Bizzell, Richard Sheridan and Thomas Barksdale,
The first church was merely a bush shelter, built under a dogwood tree beside a spring known as Mount Zion Spring- thus, the name Mount Zion. This was the black church in Elizabethtown. The pastor
was Rev. John Davis. The trustees were Richard McKoy, William Gillespie, Dempsey Purdie, Stephen Gillespie, and Kranson Shipman.
The Second Church
The second church was established on the site of our present church. The land was a gift from a very friendly white gentleman, Colonel McDowell. This land was specifically granted to the
trustees of the church and their ancestors. The trustees were A.F. McDowell, J.C. Smith, Enoch Bizzell, Jasper McMillian, Alex McDowell, Alex Cromatie, William McDowell, Albert Cowan, and W.C.
After many meetings and long hours of planning, the church was constructed by Henry Sheridan, M.N. Hewey, Tom Barksdale, Kim McMillian and Alex McDowell. The first pastor was Rev. I. B.
Williams, who served under the administration of our first Bishop- Bishop Walters.
In the early 1900s, a parsonage was erected on the South side of a tract of land adjoining the church.
The Third Church
By the year 1952, the second church had been renovated twice. It was during this time, under the administration of Rev. J.B. Howell, that William McDowell thought it was wise to construct a new
building rather than taking the route of another renovation. A few of the members organized a Civic Club with the purpose of erecting a new structure from the ground up. Plans for the new structure
were put into action. The old second church was moved to the southeast section of the site on which it stood.
The services of Andrew Lesane, Hubert Powell, Jospeh Lewis, D.S. Smith and George Lacewell were contracted for the brick masonry. The carpentry contract was awarded to John Lawrence Lucas,
William Sheridan and Pearl McKoy. Many of the men of the church contributed free labor.
During the administration of Rev. E.E. Roundtree, the mortgage was burned on October 15, 1961, and the new edifice was dedicated. The building consisted of the sanctuary, vestibule, balcony,
pastor's study, conference room and 4 additional room to be used as Sunday School rooms.
Furniture and other necessities were purchased through the efforts of many members, especially through the women who so willingly rallied to the cause. Fund- raising projects, under the
leadership of Mrs. C. M. Carraway made possible the installation of the pews and carpet.
In 1965, the ladies of the church saw a dire need for a cafeteria and a fellowship hall. Prior to this time, the old second church had been used for serving meals and for social activities.
Again, the members united and by 1969, the cafeteria and fellowship hall had been completed during the administration of Rev. E.R. Cheek.
Progress and improvements continued in various forms. After the end of Rev. Cheek's seven- year tenure, the following pastors served Mount Zion. Rev. John Shaw- 1 year; Rev. John Spruill- 5
years; Rev. Strossie Robbins- 6 years; and Rev. Gary Burns- 1 years. During that span, new carpet, new art stained glass windows and Lexan storm windows were installed in the sanctuary and vestibule.
The Sunday School Department purchased a 32- passenger bus and a 15- passenger van.
In October 1985, the church was blessed by the appointment of Rev. A.D. Brown. Many significant accomplishments were ascertained during Rev. Brown's first year. During November 1986, the
pastor's study had undergone a complete renovation and a new six- room parsonage had been erected from the group up. During this year, Mount Zion served as the host for the 75th Session of the Cape
Fear Annual Conference under the guidance of the late Bishop Reuben L. Speaks.
In addition to the physical improvements of the church, Rev. Brown established over 20 ministries to serve the church and community. He also invested in the youth, using his pastoral anniversary
celebration funds to help high school graduates further their education. Upon leaving Mt. Zion, Rev. Brown became the Presiding Elder of the Goldsboro District, Cape Fear Annual Conference.
Following Rev. Brown, Mt. Zion was blessed to have (now) Bishop Seth O. Lartey serve as a pastor. Lartey established a noon- day prayer service on Mondays, Sunday evening Bible class, Tuesday
Bible enrichment class, Wednesday Outreach Ministry, Thursday Spiritual Meditation and prayer hour, Saturday Operation Feed My People, a weekly ministry for needy families, coordinated by the Home
Missions Board, as well as a soup kitchen ministry to the sick and shut-in, and a prison ministry. Bishop Lartey also organized the Adopt A Highway Program, initiated a Community Watch Program, and a
Community- wide Clean- Up Campaign.
Following Rev. Lartey, Rev. G. Curtis Newby served. Mt. Zion again hosted the Cape Fear Annual Conference in 1994 under his leadership. The central heat and air conditioning system was upgraded.
After leaving Mt. Zion, Rev. Newby became a Presiding Elder in the North Carolina Conference.
Following Rev. Newby, Rev. Dr. Franklin Tootie became the pastor. Dr. Tootie's tenure was brief, however, he was a dedicated and inspiring preacher.
In March 1997, Mt. Zion was blessed with its first female pastor, Rev. Dr. F. S. Brown. Under her supervision, the indebtedness of the parsonage was paid off in advance of its designated date.
She was also the first female pastor to host the Cape Fear Annual Conference. Under her leadership, the church also received a facelift with new curtains and new office furniture. A new van was
purchased and a new microphone was purchased.
In October 2001, the church was again blessed when Rev. Alonzo Braggs became the pastor. He too was blessed to host the Cape Fear Annual Conference, under the leadership of Bishop George
Battle, at the St. Luke Church in Wilmington, NC.
Also, under the tutelage of Rev. Braggs, 6 lay persons were called to the ministry: Gary Burns, Andrea Phillips, Sara Alberta Lewis, Whitney Brunson, Emily Brunson, and Amanda Bell.
Rev. Braggs also established Mt. Zion as a partner with the Bladen Crisis Center to help victims of violence.
In October 2005, Rev. Paul Sewell became Mt. Zion's pastor. Under his leadership, the sanctuary pews were padded, the carpet was replaced, the sanctuary was painted, and the chair were replaced
in the choir stand. The pastor's study was also refurbished, including the carpeting. New tile was laid in the vestibule and back hall, New decorative furniture was placed in the vestibule. The
balcony was renovated to enhance visibility.
Rev. Sewell continued Tuesday evening Bible Study and established Wednesday noon- day prayer service.
During Rev. Sewell's tenure, 2 lay persons were called to the ministry: Jared Lewis and Dora Jones. In addition, 3 ministers were ordained in Jan. 2009- Revs. Sarah Lewis, Gary Burns, and Andrea
Phillips McDowell. One minister also became a Traveling Preacher. Also, Rev. Ryan Godfrey transferred his membership to Mt. Zion.
In 2009, Rev. Dr. Vincent Meares became the pastor. Through his God- given teaching gifts, he enhanced learning levels in Bible Study, Sunday School, special classes, and worship services. He
also activated his vision to build the community by building relationships with the churches in the area, and through this vision, annual Passion Week and Thanksgiving rotation services were
established. Also, under the leadership of Dr. Meares, there was a roof replacement project on both the church roof as well as the parsonage that was completed.
In December 2015, Rev. Edwin M. Ferguson was appointed as pastor of Mt. Zion. He seeks to build upon what his predecessors have established, as well as seeking new avenues to carry out effective
The Mt. Zion Church- Everybody is Somebody, and Jesus is Lord!!!