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1868 Our History Present

pic Mount Zion Second Baptist Church was organized in April, 1868. Those who came together as the second oldest Black Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia to form this religious body were: Anthony White, Henry Gates, John Mackay, James Thornton, David Hines, Charity Owens and others totaling thirteen members in all. These early organizers were members of the Friendship Baptist Church. Because of the distance these brothers and sisters lived from Friendship (they lived on the Northside of the city and Friendship was located on the Westside) they peacefully and with the Spirit of Christ, requested letters from Friendship in order that they might organize a church in a section near their homes. Their letters were granted and the early organizers left Friendship with its best wishes and prayers. The first church site was a “brush harbor’ on what was known as Lucky Hill, a site near the present Peachtree and Linden Avenues. The first pastor was Rev. Dock Phillips who served for one year. The Rev. George Owens served from 1869-1972. The Piedmont-Baker site was selected and purchased in 1872, during the pastorate of Rev. Owens at a price of $350.00. The erection of the church cost an additional $1,000.00. Rev. Owens pastored until his health began to fail. Following his demise, the Rev. A. W. Watson was called and served for a short period of time as the church was destroyed by fire. In 1880, the congregation, along with the Rev. W. R. Clemmons of Green County, Georgia, held services in a boxcar. During the pastorate of Rev. Clemmons, the church was rebuilt at a cost of $3,500.00. Rev. Clemmons’ tenure lasted five years. Upon leaving Mt. Zion, he, along with fifty-eight members organized what is now Mount Olive Baptist Church. In 1886, the Rev. W. L. Jones of Roswell Junction was called as pastor. The church took on new life, as many members were added. In 1888, Rev. Jones left the church with sixty-five members and founded Beulah Baptist Church. In 1890, the Rev. S. A. McNeil of Augusta, Georgia was called and later resigned after two years of service. Following his resignation, the Rev. W. H. Tillman was called in 1892, and served for about a year. The same year, Rev. W. H. Tuggle was called and installed. The membership greatly increased and the church again took on new life. He faithfully pastored until 1899. Upon leaving, Rev. Tuggle and several members of Mt. Zion organized Tabernacle Baptist Church. Other ministers who served were Reverend Kelsey, who later organized what is now Butler Street Baptist Church. Rev. Rucker and Rev. C. C. Ailer also served for brief periods of time. The arrival of Rev. J. T. Dorsey found Mount Zion at its lowest. The morale of the church had been destroyed; hence, Rev. Dorsey encountered a dilapidated church, a disgruntled and confused congregation with financial difficulties. Rev. Dorsey reorganized God’s flock and with strong managerial leadership skills, managed to get the church back on a solid financial base. The church mortgage was burned, and the Board of Trustees and Auxiliaries were reestablished. After paying off the old debt and remodeling the church, the church went up in flames in November, 1926, on a Sunday morning, destroying everything, even the church bell. Neighboring churches came to the rescue and it was Rev. B. R. Holmes who insisted that Mt. Zion use the Chapel of the Holmes Institute for worship services. The pastor and his staff of officers began immediately to rebuild, and in April of 1927, the membership marched into the new church edifice singing “songs of Zion.” The newly erected edifice was modern in every respect, with all the modern conveniences of its time. The equipment included: new pews, carpet, a pipe organ and kitchen appliances. Wards One, Three, Four and Five were organized in 1927 to take care of the building fund. The church continued its march under the dynamic leadership of Rev. J.T. Dorsey. Its accomplishments were many: a new roof was added in 1942; the mortgage was burned and dedicatory services held in 1943. A public address system and chimes were installed in 1947, and the church was recarpeted, reseated with pews, a baby grand piano and console organ were purchased; all of which were paid for in cash. After serving for over 32 years, Rev. J. T. Dorsey died in March of 1949. Dr. E. R. Searcy, Sr. was called in 1949, but did not assume his duties as pastor until June of 1950. Dr. Searcy readily saw the necessity of a renovation program and even a new building program. The church continued to worship at 281 Piedmont Avenue and Baker Street. In 1954, we received notice from the City of Atlanta that we would have to move to make room for a multi-million dollar expressway. The pastor and church members immediately began to make plans for a new location and new church. A general planning committee on location was set up by the pastor to find a suitable location for the church. Members of the committee were Deacon Ed. Davenport-Chairman, Rev. E. R. Searcy- Pastor, J. T. Thompson, Gertrude Williams, W. J. Jones, Deacon Dave Morton, Mrs. E. R. Searcy and Deacon M. P. Bostick. After careful consideration, the committee found the present site at the corner of Boulevard and Irwin Street and purchased it at a cost of $50,000.00. An outstanding lease was also attached for an additional sum of $60,000.00. It was an historic hour when the pastor and officers of the Mount Zion Second Baptist Church received a check for $140,000.00 from Col. H. B. Andres, Land agent for the city of Atlanta, and officers of the Atlanta Title Company as payment for the old 281 Piedmont Avenue Property. Among the deceased members who witnessed this transaction were E. R. Searcy, G. A. Todd, John Eagle, Alphonso Evans, W. B. Batten, J. C. Brannon, M. P. Bostick and Jimmy Wray. The final settlement was made May 7, 1954 for the sum of $140,000.00. The construction project began in late July of 1955. Under the leadership of Dr. E. R. Searcy, a new edifice of contemporary style was erected at a cost of $409,000.00. The parking lot was paved; equipment was purchased for the classrooms, assembly rooms and fellowship hall materials paid for at a cost of $7,500.00. The congregation worshipped on Piedmont and Baker Street from 1872 to1956. Of the eighty-four years serving God at the old site, there were only two major building campaigns. The first building campaign was to burn the mortgage of the old site, built under the leadership of the late Dr. J. T. Dorsey following the fire in 1926. The second and largest campaign to date was under the leadership of Dr. E. R. Searcy, Sr. in April, 1975. Pastor Searcy was also one of the founding fathers of the New Era Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia. He served as president of the New Era Missionary Baptist Sunday School and B. T. U. Leadership Congress of Georgia. He also served as president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. Dr. Searcy had the distinction of serving the Mount Zion Second Baptist Church longer than any pastor in the history of the church. Upon the retirement of Dr. Searcy, the Rev. Larry Jones was chosen as pastor. During his tenure, new programs were initiated. Among them were the couples, employment, senior citizens, planning/review, finance committees, new member orientation class, video/audio tape ministry and singles ministries. Rev. Jones strengthened the Outreach, Youth and Bible ministries, which were initiated during his tenure as assistant pastor. On May 31, 1992, Rev. Jones resigned, and Dr. Charles Sargent was called in June of the same year, to serve as interim Pastor through February, 1993. The Rev. Emory R. Searcy, Jr. was in charge of the pulpit from April 1993 until June 1993, at which time, the associate ministers of the church provided the preaching for Sunday worship. In April of 1993, the Rev. Marty L. Henderson was called and assumed his pastoral duties in June of 1993. It was in the year of 1999, that Mount Zion began the first of her Tent Revivals, which were the culmination of community-wide block parties. As a result, 132 souls were won for Christ. In addition, Mt. Zion hosted a Backyard Bible Club with World Changers of the Atlanta Baptist Association (A division of the Georgia Baptist and Southern Baptist Conventions) which consisted of youth from around the United States. This involved witnessing and fellowshipping, and reaching out to the youth and children of our community in love. Upon receiving and accepting a call to the pastorate of the New Hope Baptist Church in Akron, Ohio, Rev. Henderson resigned the pastorate of Mt. Zion, and delivered his last sermon on November 12, 2001. With the departure of Rev. Henderson, Mt. Zion was without a Shepherd, and enlisted the services of the associate ministers of the church to fill the void for the next three months. Trusting in God and remaining steadfast, Mt. Zion pressed forward believing that “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord.” In February of 2002, Dr. Henry W. Jones, who was the retired Senior Pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, and living in Atlanta, was called to serve as interim Pastor. Assuming his role as interim Pastor on March 3, 2002, Dr. Jones inspired the congregation to look to Jesus, and to unite in spirit. Through the teaching of God’s word at Bible Study, and prophetic preaching on each Lord’s Day, his impact was immediately felt. After serving lovingly and faithfully for one year as interim Pastor, Rev. Jones was called as Pastor. He accepted the call and began his duties on March 2, 2003. It wasn’t long before many of the members returned to the church, and many new members have since been baptized into the fellowship. Mt. Zion’s fellowship with sister churches was reestablished. Under his leadership, some of the accomplishments over the past five years are: A Prayer Service and Noon Day Bible Study, in addition to the regular Wednesday Night Prayer and Bible Study; A Christian Education Ministry with workshops on Prayer, Evangelism, and Stewardship; Men and Women’s Day Celebrations in the same year; Participation in a Community-Wide Vacation Bible School; The Dedication and naming of the Church Chapel in memory of Dr. E. R. Searcy, Sr.; The Dedication and naming of the Fellowship Hall in memory of Sister Carrie Butler and Brother J. D. Winston; The Acquisition of a 20 passenger Church bus; The Refurbishing of the Pastor’s Study; The re-carpeting of the Sanctuary and The E. R. Searcy, Sr. Memorial Chapel; The Repaving of the Church Parking Lot; The Purchase of New Dining Room Chairs for the Butler/Winston Fellowship Hall; A new roof installed over the Educational wing; and The Purchase of a state-of-the-art multi ton chiller. We thank God for all the Pastors and laypersons who have made significant contributions to the life and ministry of Mt. Zion during her 140 years of service to the city of Atlanta and beyond. To God be the glory!

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