BY ASHLEY THOMAS
The New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church will be celebrating its 116th anniversary on Sunday, Jan. 19, and recognizing their new senior pastor, the Rev. Melvin Dawson.
The church’s rich history includes a relationship with sister church Mt. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church of Daytona Beach.
“Because many of the members of Bethel had to walk across town to attend service, the congregations decided to establish a sister church on what was then Second Avenue, now known as Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd. Today that church is New Mt. Zion and we still maintain our close relationship with Mt. Bethel,” Dr. Evelyn Bethune, a member of New Mt. Zion shared with The Daytona Times.
MLK choir to sing
The anniversary celebration will be held over the weekend, including a church picnic Saturday at Daisy Stocking Park from noon – 4 p.m.
The church also plans a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during its anniversary celebration.
At 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, there will be a worship service with Dawson delivering the message. The service is open to the public with a special invitation to past members and friends of New Mt. Zion.
The Rev. David Allen will preach at the 4 p.m. service on Jan. 19. Allen is a Bethune-Cookman University alum former associate pastor of evangelism at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville. He is the executive chaplain at B-CU.
The service will feature the MLK Mass Choir of DeLand under the direction of Stan H. Whitted. The theme is “Standing on the Everlasting Word of God.’’
According to the City of Daytona Beach’s Black Heritage Trail information, Mount Zion Baptist Church was organized in 1898 to meet the needs of the city’s rapidly growing north side African-American population.
Church members first met in an enclosed portion of a sawmill. However, under the leadership of Mount Zion’s first minister, the Rev. Walter Jones, a small structure resembling a house soon was erected. After a fire heavily damaged this structure, a new building was completed in 1910.
Continued growth and prosperity led to the construction of the current building during the 1940s under the leadership of the Rev. George O. Sumner. A distinguishing characteristic of the church edifice is the numerous ornate stained glass windows.
During the late 1960s, the church purchased additional property, and a new parsonage was constructed on Oak Street. The Education Building, which housed the Sunday school and auxiliary activities, was completed in 1989 and dedicated in memory of Sumner.