Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church rich with history, compassion
By Dawn Burleigh
A church continuing in the spiritual foundation
– Ephesians 2:19-22
A church involved in helping others with a hand up, celebrated 145 years of serving Orange on Thursday.
Rev. Franklin Gans Sr. gave a history of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, which continues to reach out to minister to the community.
One of the oldest black churches in Orange, the original location of the chapel was at the corner of 3rd and Cherry, a now wooded lot.
The church was started in 1871 as a result of the organizational efforts begun by Simon Jones, Peter Minor, and William Ruben Minor. Joined later by William Edwards, Boyd Scott, Arthur Robinson, and John Williams, they raised funds for the construction of a church building.
The congregation was forced to relocate the original building just months after completion.
“It was ready expect for the windows,” Gans said. “Some white youths wanted the building or a dance hall. After some time, it was agreed the members could have the building if they could find a new place for it.”
The building, which included hand made shingles, was relocated near John and 4th. Windows were installed after the relocation.
The building seen today at the corner of 5th Street and John is actually the 5th building and the location of a historical marker, which was dedicated on April 8, 1981.
Several other sanctuaries served the members before the present brick building was constructed in 1926. Designed by Dr. C. E. Jeter, it was completed during the pastorate of the Rev. W. J. Clark. The Mount Zion congregation has been instrumental in the development of the community, sponsoring missionary programs and serving as a nucleus for the formation of several churches, according to the marker.
“St Paul’s Baptist Church is not a split from Mt Zion,” Gans said. “It was started because some of the residents were not able to walk to Mt. Zion, our mother church.”
Lanie Brown, executive director of community relations for Congressman Brian Babin, presented Rev. C.W. Crawford with a certificate to commemorate 145 years for the church as well as presented him with a flag that had flown over the capital of the United States from Congressman Brian Babin.
“They are about a hand up, not a hand out,” Brown said. “After speaking with Rev. Crawford and Rev. Jackson, there is no doubt we will have a long history of working together.”
Mt. Zion is involved in several outreach ministries including drug programs, education, housing, and job training.
The anniversary banquet was held at North Orange Baptist Church.
Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church is located at 512 West John Ave. in Orange.
In depth Bible class is held each Tuesday at 7 p.m.