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A Brief History of Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Celebrating 140 Years of Heritage and Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ


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Mike Jones
Copyright © 1996-2006
All Rights Reserved.

Site maintained by
  Mike Jones

The present site of Mt. Zion Baptist Church has been a place of worship for more than 190 years and has been organized as Mt. Zion Baptist Church for 140 years, since October 7, 1857.

Previous to October 7, 1857 this location had been a interdenorninational place of worship, namely, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Baptist, the same being testified by tombstones in "The Old" part of the cemetery. The first structures were primitive shelters known as "Brush Arbors".

On May 18, 1807 Benjamin Anthony of the one part and Nicholas Ayer and Jacob Dellinger, trustees with Benjamin Anthony for the congregation belonging to "Anthony's Meeting House", for consideration of the sum of $1.00 bargained and sold unto, the said trustees and their successors a piece of land for use of a church and Presbyterian Meeting House, lying and being in the County of Lincoln on the waters of Indian Creek on the Bark Road leading from Morganton to Charleston and near The Flint Hill Road where said meeting house is now erected.

At a time between 1807 and 1856 the name was changed to "Hebron Meeting House". At a period of time prior to 1856, the exact date being unknown, the Lutherans and the Presbyterians removed themselves from "The Hebron Meeting House" and it is believed that each congregation selected its own constituted church location.

In 1856 various Baptists living and worshipping in the vicinity of "The Hebron Meeting House" purchased the tract of land for the purpose of building a Baptist church.

On October 17, 1857 a Baptist church was constituted and named Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Help was sent from New Bethel and New Prospect churches to assist in the organization. The Constitution was called for, read and received. It was then announced that a church by the name of Mt. Zion Baptist Church would transact her own business. The Roll calls for 40 members, 21 males, and 19 females as Charter Members. The last of the original members died l 0930.

The First Mt. Zion Baptist Church House

A new Baptist Church House was started soon after the 1857 organization of Mt. Zion, but work was interrupted with the outbreak of the War Between The States. Work was not finished until after the War was ended. The first building was completed in 1865 and since that time Mt. Zion has always had an open-door policy and welcomed new members. In 1861 Jacob Black, a black boy, presented himself with a letter from New Prospect and received into the fellowship. In July, 1866, during a revival meeting eleven people joined the church, one being Caroline Blanton, a black woman.

The following are the original Articles of Faith:

  1. We believe in one only true and living God the Father, son and Holy ghost, three in one equal in honor and glory.
  2. We believe that the scriptures of the old and new testaments are the word of God and only rule of faith and practice,
  3. We believe that all men by nature are the children of wrath,
  4. We believe in man's impotency by his own will and holiness to recover himself from the fallen state he is in,
  5. We believe in the doctrine of election through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth,
  6. We believe that sinners; are justified in the sight of God only by faith in Jesus Christ,
  7. We believe that saints will persevere through grace and not finally fall away,
  8. We believe that Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of Jesus Christ's Church, and that adult believers are the proper subjects and immersion the proper baptism,
  9. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment,
  10. We believe that the joys of the righteous, and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal,
  11. We believe that no minister has a right to the administration of the ordinances, but such as have been called of God, regularly baptized, approved of by the church, and come under the imposition of the hands of the presbytery,
  12. We believe that none but believe have a right to the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Church Government - Covenant

Church Government - a particular church is a company of saints assembled to gather built by a special covenant in the one distinct body to be fitly ordered to enjoy fellowship with Christ in all his ways and ordinances to there mutual edification and the glory of God through the Spirit.

Covenant - In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we the members of the Baptist Church of Christ at Mt. Zion both male and female having given ourselves unto the Lord and to one another by the will of God jointly to Christ and act by the Rules of the gospel each esteeming ourselves a member of a spiritual body accountable to it and subject to Its controls and not otherwise separated therefrom them by consent first had or unreasonably refused. We do further engage through divine assistance to comply with all the requisitions of the gospel submit to each other in love as brethren in the Lord strictly by observing all rules preserved for church government in testimony and ratification whereof we assign our names."

32 Members Form New Church

On October 22, 1881, 32 members of Mt. Zion Baptist Church requested and were granted church letters in order to constitute a church at Shady Grove just south of Cherryville in Gaston County, and on May 27, 1882, Mt. Zion granted a request from Shady Grove Church for elders and deaconship of Mt. Zion Church to assist in the Ordination of a Minister and some deacons on Friday before the third Sunday in June, 1882.

New Baptist Church at Hoover's Stand

On March 25, 1882 Mt. Zion Church leaders meet with Brothers and Sisters at Hoover's Stand to help them in constituting a church there. Another historical item indicates that on Saturday, July 22, 1882, with the church ceiling being in need of repairs, Mt. Zion Baptist Church appointed J.R. Moss, J.J. McGinnis and E.R. Wellmon as a committee to attend to the ceiling and to make such other repairs as they see fit and are able to do.

On November 25, 1882 Mt. Zion granted a letter of dismission to Jacob Black, a black boy who had joined the church a year earlier.

Zion Hill Ordination

On April 27, 1884 the Zion Hill Church of Christ at Zion Hill sent a request to Mt. Zion Baptist Church for their deacons, eldership and church pastor to come to Zion Hill and help them in ordaining a deacon. Mt. Zion Baptist Church granted a request on May 20, 1893 to send the Pastor, Elders and Deacons to aid in organizing a church at Cherryville, to be held on the first Sunday in June, 1893, at 11 o'clock.

Baptism in Mill Pond

On September 16, 1893, Mt. Zion held Baptismal Services at The Melvin Rudisill Mill Pond. The exact number of new.members is not known.

New Church at Carpenter's School House

On October 27, 1895 Mt. Zion Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Webb requested Elders, Deacons and interested church members to aid in organizing a church at Carpenter's School House to be held on the Friday before the 2nd Sunday in October, 1885.

Another item of interested happened on March 29, 1914 when Mt. Zion Baptist Church met to dedicate the Church and (adorn) some deacons. Brother Swope from Shelby preached the Dedication sermon, and some deacons from a Cherryville Baptist Church were also present at the organization.

August 18, 1917 the Mt. Zion Church congregation met at a pond near the spring where a Baptism was administered.

HUGH HELMS - At the time of this printing, Mr. Hugh Helms, now 90-years-old and a life-long member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church remembers that he was baptized in August 1918 in a pond that he himself built near the church just so he could be baptized in it. In January, 1928 a motion was made and carried that Sister Edna Helms be elected as Teacher of the Mens' Sunday School Class.

Mt. Zion was a member of the Kings Mountain Baptist Association until the organization of the Gaston Baptist Association in 1919. Mt. Zion is believed to be the third oldest Baptist church in Gaston County, and has been the moving spirit in the organizing of many Baptist churches, among them being The First Baptist Church of Cherryville, Leonard's Fork Baptist Church and The Shady Grove Baptist Church.

Church Destroyed by Fire

On or about the year 1900, The Mt. Zion Baptist Church was destroyed by fire.

Under the leadership of Rev. D.F. Putnam, Church Pastor, a new and larger church building was erected in 1902-1903, and more land was added to the Church lots. A partial listing of land transactions are as follows:

Now therefore the said M.P. Dellinger in consideration of the love and kind feeling entertained to words that the said object and in consideration of one dollar the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged by him both by these presence bargained granted and conveyed to the said Trustees as above named for the use of the church when constituted to build on and otherwise use for their benefit a certain piece or tract of land as follows: Land was acquired from Dora Craft Helms on March 15, 1910, parcel of 10/16 acre for $20.31. Trustees at the time were John F. Dellinger, John F. Black, A.M. Black and T.E. Black. Land was acquired from J.W. Kendrick and wife Lillian Kendrick, N.B. Kendrick and wife Julia Kendrick, parcel of 1-1/2 acres for $30.00 on August 12, 1912. Hugh and Fay Helms gave 1.2 acres below the church to Mt. Zion Church on March 27, 1952 for $1.00. Trustees at the time were Clarence Dellinger, Hugh Helms and Wesley Dellinger.

In 1957 a small tract of land was purchased from Mr. E.L. Webb, on which a new and modern pastorium was built and dedicated to the Glory of God, debt-free. Much of the material and labor was donated by various church members.

Present Buildings From 1945

In January 1945, under the leadership of Church Pastor Rev. J.W. Costner, Mt. Zion launched a Building Program.

From 1945 until 1949 plans were being laid and money raised for the erection of a new church building. A former member, the late Alexander Putnam, bequeathed to Mt. Zion a tract of land containing 107 acres near Dallas. On April 29, 1945, the trustees sold the timber on the land for $3,250.00 and on July 11, 1948, sold the land for $1,500.00 making a total of $4,750.00. This money was applied to the new church building. Ground was broken on July 1, 1949 for the new building under the direction of George D. Beam, Sr., Chairman of the Building Committee and Superintendent of Construction. The first service was held in the new building on May 14, 1950 and on May 8, 1955 it was dedicated to the Glory of God, debt-free at an estimated value of $90,000.

A new educational building was begun in June 1967 with Lee Costner as Chairman of the Building Committee. The new building was occupied February 1968. It was dedicated to the Glory of God, debt-free, in a note-burning service, Sunday, May 9, 1981. Since 1981 a ramp for the handicapped has been added, renovation of the auditorium has been done and both buildings have been completely air-conditioned, debt-free as of July, 1992.

Mt. Zion has had forty-one pastors, beginning with Elder C. Carpenter on October 7, 1857 as the first pastor and Rev. Wayne Key as the present Pastor. In the early years most of the pastors stayed for approximately one year. Rev. L.A. Gable, Jr. pastored for the longest, 13 years, from 1962 to 1975. Rev. P.A. Hicks was next with 11 years, 1946-1957. Three former pastors are still active in God's work today: Rev. Charles High, Rev. Bob Baynard and Rev. Ken Gibson.

Mt. Zion has been ' missionary in Spirit and in deeds. The records show that early, in its life, Mt. Zion voted to have a missionary box to raise money for mission work. Mt. Zion has had a Sunday School since early in its life, the exact date of its organization being unknown. Tom Mullinax was the first Sunday School superintendent and the first Church Clerk. Four of our members have been called to preach the gospel . . . Lee Wacaster, John Williarn Beam, Jerry Lail, Sr. and Ken Turbyfill. Several had answered the call to full-time Christian' Service . . . Linda Avery McNeely, Barbara Lavery Hill, Carol Ann Lavery Hord, Robbie Norman, Jim and Nancy Worth and Clarence and Ruth Griffin. Many have served as volunteer short-term missionaries in both Home and Foreign Mission areas.

Celebrating 140 years in Cherryville, Mt. Zion Baptist Church continues to share the gospel. Mt. Zion has 611 members and five staff workers. The church has an active Sunday School with church members teaching the Sunday School classes every week here and at the Carolina Care Nursing Home in Cherryville. Other activities include Discipleship Training, Sunday morning and Sunday evening worship, Wednesday Prayer Meeting, Mission Organizations for all ages, and Vacation Bible School. Not only does the church participate in its own programs, but it joins with other churches as well to help the need. It also supports Cherryville Area Ministries, a church-supported charity organization.

Rev. Wayne Key has served as pastor since July 1, 1994.

Mt. Zion recently added one acre to the parking lot, a much needed construction. The land was given by Mr. Hugh Helms. A new organ was purchased in 1995. The downstairs Fellowship Hall was been completely remodeled. A Prayer Room has been added. The pastorium was completely remodeled in 1994. The church has two vans and uses these to transport those unable to drive to the church. A new church sign has been purchased and erected and a new Memorial Park is nearing completion.

Mt. Zion continues to share the gospel and the goal is always to further the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Goals for tomorrow are to continue to grow and to win others to Jesus Christ. We would like to continually improve our present facilities, to build a multipurpose building, and to seek God's guidance and direction.