About Mt. Zion UMC
Mt. Zion has been part of the Methodist Church Connectional system since its origin, when in 1815 twelve members worshipping with the Methodist assemblage at Mt. Pisgah Methodist Episcopal Church, Free Haven, NJ, chose not to continue. Rev. Richard Allen, founder of the AME Church and Mother Bethel AME Church, Philadelphia, PA was the "Circuit Rider" Preacher and Pastor of Mt. Pisgah, providing spiritual leadership for the congregation at that time. Rev. Allen declared Mt. Pisgah independent of its original connection with the Methodist church and called for a vote of support. The majority voted in favor of independence and the opposing "minority" (the twelve) claim being. The twelve, without a church or a place to worship, met in various homes of members from 1815 to 1827 and elected to remain in the original Methodist Episcopal Church structure. The congregation increased to fifty.
In 1827 George Wooly, a Circuit Rider on the Old Burlington Circuit, requested a resident of Magnolia, NJ, a member of Old St. George Methodist Episcopal Church, to oversee our group. With this leadership, we developed spiritually, educationally and financially.
From the original name African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, of the church that appears on the deed (issued in 1828 to members or persons of color of the Methodist Society of Gloucester County), Mt. Zion has undergone name changes consistent with those of the Methodist church worldwide, shown as follows; Mt. Zion Methodist Church to 1939, Mt. Zion Methodist church 1939 to 1968 and Mt. Zion United Methodist Church from 1968 to present.
As a member church of the United Methodist Church, Mt. Zion United Methodist Church is currently a member of the Greater NJ Annual Conference. The current church building is listed as Historic Site #174 within the United Methodist Church Worldwide Archival Directory. Records show Mt. Zion was incorporated in the State of New Jersey as Mt. Zion Methodist Episcopal Church on January 19, 1982, based on a congregational meeting held on December 14, 1891, "with a plurality of voices" voting in favor. The members continued to meet from house to house, with a financial plan focusing on starting a sinking fund of two cents a week to purchase land and build.
African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church (Mt. Zion) was organized in 1828. On March 2, 1828 the first Trustees purchased from Mr. Joseph Jenings of the Township of Waterford, more than two acres of land (the current site occupied by the existing church and cemetery) for $40.00. The first church was a quickly built log cabin destroyed by fire in 1835. Four churches have been built on this parcel of land since 1828. The current building, completed in 1905, is the fourth church structure on the site.
A major renovation of the sanctuary, with the addition of offices and classrooms, was completed in 1971. The additional space enabled an outreach ministry to be extended to the preschool Head Start Program under the auspices of the Camden County Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in 1975. The initial parsonage located at the top of the hill, east of the cemetery, was completed in 1891. It served pastors until 1951. The construction of the New Jersey Turnpike, which bisected Lawnside and required the removal of homes located in its path, enabled Mt. Zion to produce the building currently located west of the church. This served as the second parsonage until 1987. The third parsonage (remote location) soon became the property of Mt. Zion. The property to the east at the intersection of White Horse Pike and Davis Road, formerly known as the "Acorn Inn", was also procured.
Additional land was procured to the west of the current buildings (church and former parsonage) in 1997, on which an eighty-space parking lot was recently completed. With God's continued blessing and congregational support, Mt. Zion has increased its land ownership along the White Horse Pike (NJ Highway Route #30) to over four (4) acres.
Forty pastors of record have served Mt. Zion congregations throughout its history. The new and current minister, Pastor Clifford Still, Sr., will continue to spiritually encourage us to fulfill our vision and mission statements:
Vision Statement: We are disciples of Jesus Christ, saved by Grace, committed to serving humankind in any way that enhances the spiritual, physical and social well-being of us all.
Mission Statement: As believers, we will introduce humankind to Jesus Christ through witnessing and communications. We will develop relevant ministries which lead to the spiritual growth of all persons and improve the quality of our lives.
"TO GOD BE THE GLORY."