Church History

CHURCH HISTORY

MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH OF HOLMESBURG

The Mount Zion Baptist Church of Holmesburg, Pennsylvania continues to do bigger and better work for the Master, and as we journey onward to the future, we are proud of our past history.

1897 – 1928

Andrew Jones (Prophet Jones) was quite significant to the original history of Mount Zion Baptist Church of Holmesburg, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  In 1896 the late Evangelist Prophet Jones came upon a group of men playing cards in a Stone Quarry on Rowland Avenue.  Being a preacher, he naturally began preaching to them, then and there.  He continued to come to the site and preach.  Prophet Jones convinced these men to give their lives to Christ.  As a result of his talking and praying, some souls were converted and plans began almost immediately to develop a Sunday School and Church, later to be called Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Shortly after this, Rev. Burrell came to these men and women and was accepted as their leader.  He organized them into a mission and faithfully preached The Word of God to them.  Many of the members often visited The White Baptist Church of the area.  On November 7, 1897 the Negro Baptist Mission requested the White Baptist Church to form a council to set them apart as a formal Baptist Church.  The council was called on December 1, 1897 by Rev. Simon Peter Davis, the Pastor of the White Baptist Church of Holmesburg.  The council advised the Mission to unite with The Second Baptist Church of Frankford.  Rev. James Summer, Pastor of Second Baptist Church received these members very graciously and after a few months, sent them back to Holmesburg as an organized church.

Rev. John Byrd, the assistant to Rev. Summer was the first pastor of the organized Mount Zion Baptist Church.  Services were held in a shack located on the premises of the Holmesburg Granite Quarry on Welsh Road.  Due to his age, Rev. Byrd retired after three years.

In 1900, Mr. Amos Shalcross, a local real estate agent, gave the church a lot on Rowland Avenue.  At approximately the same time Rev. John W. Boone was called as pastor of Mount Zion.  On this site, a one story frame building was erected with a seating capacity of 150 persons.  Rev. Boone served for two years and then resigned.

In 1902, Rev. S. W. Givens was called as pastor of Mount Zion.  During his twelve years of leadership he was successful in paying off the indebtedness on the church building.  He added a significant number of members to the church.  Rev. Givens retired from Mount Zion after twelve successful years.

Rev. Charles Armstead Clayton was called as pastor of Mount Zion in 1914.  He began his work at Mount Zion with twenty-two members and no funds.  He organized the first form of banking system for the church and the church secured twenty-five shares of stock in The Holmesburg Savings and Loan Association.  Rev. Clayton was the first pastor to organize a Building Fund for the purpose of erecting a new sanctuary.  During his administration the church was incorporated by the Laws of the State of Pennsylvania.  Rev. Clayton was called to eternal rest after seven successful years of service in Mount Zion. 

After a period of mourning, Rev. Albert B. Jordan was called as pastor of Mount Zion in 1922.  Under his leadership the property where the present sanctuary now stands was purchased  and a new church was built at a cost of $42,000.00.  After seven years at Mount Zion Rev. Jordan resigned. 

1929 – 1965

In 1929 Rev. E. Theodore Lewis was called to the pastorate of Mount Zion.  He was vigorous and gifted with a genius for leadership.  He was a great preacher, a good pastor and equally a good financier.  Rev. Lewis also installed a Pipe Organ, and paid over $2,000.00 on the mortgage.  Rev. Lewis served for three years and then resigned to accept the call to Muchmore Memorial Baptist Church.

In 1932 Rev. Joseph E. W. Dyches was called as pastor of Mount Zion.  Under his pastorate, new pews were purchased, and a new oil burner was installed, and a water cooler was added.  The second mortgage was completely liquidated, along with several hundred dollars in other notes.  He served for seven years and then resigned to pastor Jones Memorial Baptist Church.

During all of these years, the church continued to grow; the membership increased and the financial status was good.  Mount Zion has always been recognized for its excellent singing and preaching of the gospel, for which we are grateful.

During a Prayer Meeting several months later, a strange man walked in.  He took a seat in the rear of the Church and was soon asked up to be recognized.  He was Rev. Andrew W. Nix, former pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  On February 8, 1940, Rev. A. W. Nix was unanimously called to serve.  He accepted the call, and became one of the Church’s most outstanding ministers.  He was a great evangelist, church builder, and financier.  Many new members joined the Church, and he organized the Junior Church.  The Church was redecorated, and a two manual organ was installed.  Also, new pulpit furniture was purchased, and a new oil burner installed. A new carpet was laid, and the Church prospered.  The mortgage was also burned during Rev. Nix’s administration.  After two years of illness Rev. Nix was called to Glory on January 10, 1949.

Rev. John Silvanus Wilson was called as pastor of Mount Zion in December 1949.  He was an outstanding orator.  During his administration the Church was artistically redecorated, along with countless other improvements.  He continued to add to the membership of the Church.  Rev. Wilson had an unusually keen interest in young people, which motivated him to institute an annual Youth Week of celebration, which included debates, drama productions and a youth prayer service.  He served for nine years and then resigned to pastor New Thankful Baptist Church.

Rev. Charles Marks was called as our pastor in March 1959.  Rev. Marks was instrumental in starting a scouting program and the Baptist Youth Fellowship (BYF).  He was the force that pushed the Church forward, and the new Educational Building was built.  Rev. Marks was a Christian gentleman, a man of firm convictions, and one who had insight, patience and fortitude.  Realizing the great need for expansion, he urged the members to support the new building program of the Church.  As a leader, he set the example for giving by tithing.  This encouraged many of the members to do the same, and the Church’s income was greatly increased.  The groundbreaking service was held on December 18, 1960, and work was started on the new educational building on April 1, 1961.  Because of Rev. Mark’s tenacity and strength, the educational building, which was a lifelong dream, became a reality.  This building was dedicated on September 17, 1961.  Rev. Mark’s resigned on Sunday, July 25, 1965.

Once again Mount Zion was without a leader.  On July 29, 1965 a pulpit committee was formed to seek a pastor for Mount Zion.  This group was urged to be guided by The Holy Spirit in securing a spiritual leader for Mount Zion.

1966 – 2000

In October 1966, Rev. Willard M. Lamb was called as pastor of Mount Zion.  Upon Rev. Lamb’s arrival to Mount Zion, plans were changed from renovations of the Church to the construction of a new edifice.  He was instrumental in securing finances for the construction of this sanctuary.  He instituted a ten-year building fund pledge for the Church members in September 1967.  Rev. Lamb led the struggle for Mount Zion for the legal and financial passage for the erection of the Church during the nation’s economic recession.  The $325,000.00 mortgage was then secured from the First Pennsylvania Bank and Trust Company.  Rev. Lamb and the Mount Zion Church Family entered the present sanctuary on October 1, 1972.  The fifteen-year mortgage was paid off in ten years through the efforts of the membership and under Rev. Lamb’s plan of giving.  Rev. Lamb also assisted the church organist with a plan by which we were able to purchase a $14,000.00 Allen Computer Organ.

Throughout the tenure of Rev. Lamb, he proved himself to be a “Spiritual Giant.”  He was very sincere in his efforts in support of Christian Education.  He held Bible classes for the adults, young adults and children.  He also greatly strengthened the training sessions for both the Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teachers and staff.  He always continued to be concerned about the development and strengthening of Christianity in the lives of all.  Rev. Lamb served for ten years and resigned in February 1980 to pastor Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.

In 1974 Rev. Richard Johnson Waller, Sr., came to Mount Zion as Youth Director and Associate to Rev. Lamb.  He served effectively in that capacity for six years until Rev. Lamb resigned.  Mount Zion called Rev. Waller as pastor on April 13, 1980.  Rev. Waller was a kind, jovial, compassionate leader.  It was a union of love and ministerial respect.  Rev. Waller conducted regular Bible study and during his tenure five Deacons were ordained.  He started the Hospitality Committee and reactivated the Board of Christian Education.  His vision of a Chapel for Mount Zion was presented to the Church and was in the process of being realized at the time of his home going.  While Pastor, he was installed as President of The Baptist Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity; a position he was proud to hold as he represented Mount Zion his church family.  Rev. Waller was a Christian gentleman and served well as a leader until God called him home on October 18, 1993.  The Rev. R. Johnson Waller Memorial Chapel was dedicated on Sunday, November 27, 1994.

Mount Zion was once again without a leader.  After a period of mourning, in February 1994 a Pastor’s Search Committee was appointed to search for a pastor for Mount Zion.  Being led and guided by the Holy Spirit the call was extended to Rev. Roy L. Thompson to serve as Interim Pastor.  He served for approximately eleven (11) months providing spiritual leadership, guidance and direction to the Church family.

On November 5, 1995 Rev. Loreno R. Flemmings was called to the pastorate of Mount Zion Baptist Church of Holmesburg.  He rendered to Mount Zion faithful and dedicated Christian service.  Under his dynamic leadership and administration the following church and community ministries and activities were established during his tenure at Mount Zion:  The first Summer Challenge Program designed to enrich the lives of youth in this community ages 5 – 16 through spiritual, cultural and recreational activities; Youth & Family Program which is designed to seek the active involvement of parents, children, youth and church workers of Mount Zion in the overall ministry of the Church; the Men’s Fellowship Group was established to cultivate and revitalize the religious and moral values of Christian men in the church family and community; the Music Committee is charged with the responsibility of providing for and maintaining a music ministry program of excellence for the church; New Membership Committee is responsible for planning and evaluating a ministry that will involve all members; the Holmesburg Community Improvement Association designed to provide neighborhood support for existing and proposed housing programs, upgrading of public improvements and services, and provide recreational opportunities for all age groups, promote public safety, communication and resident involvement in the neighborhood; Christian Mentoring Network/Mount Zion Basketball League was established to provide young people with an opportunity to develop their gifts and talents within a wholesome caring and loving environment, in an continuous effort to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; Purchase and dedication of church van for outreach ministry which include Church School, Morning Worship, and Special Afternoon Worship Services; the first pictorial directory for Mount Zion which will provide an opportunity for members of Mount Zion to develop a closer relationship in providing support and encouragement for one another as the body of Christ; The mission for renewal originated from the church theme: “Making The Right Moves Spiritually” – I Corinthians 4:1-2; Vision 2000 for Mount Zion Baptist Church was 1). Developing An Effective Prayer Life, 2). Our Commitment to Christ through Discipleship and, 3). Church Renewal of the Church for Mission (Renewal of mind, body and soul with the guidance of the Holy Spirit).

He has held several professional positions including the City Planner for the City of Petersburg and adjunct professor in the Department of Urban Planning/Transportation program within the Department of Sociology/Social Work at Virginia State University in Ettrick, Virginia.  He holds active membership in the American Bible Society, Habitat for Humanity International, Boy Scouts of America, American Planning Association, Holmesburg Civic Association, National Baptist Convention, USA Inc., American Baptist Convention, USA.

His mission in life is to serve the church and community as a faithful and dedicated servant of the Lord.  Rev. Flemmings resigned in 2000.

In 2000 the Mount Zion Baptist Church family began an extensive search for its next pastor.  During this period the Board of Deacons, under the leadership of its Chairman, Winston J. Boston, were in charge.  During this period the Deacons were instrumental in maintaining the spiritual growth, fellowship and worship among the church members to the glory of our Lord and Savior.

Rev. Arthur E. Boston, a son of Mount Zion, was nominated and approved to be the Spiritual Leader of Mount Zion during this period.  His Pastoral experience and leadership was greatly appreciated by the membership.  Rev. Arthur E. Boston served in this capacity until the calling of Pastor Scott C. Dorsey.

2004 – Present

On March 27, 2004, the Mount Zion church family, after a lengthy and diligent search, called our present pastor, Rev. Scott C. Dorsey, as under shepherd.  In obedience to God’s will Rev. Dorsey accepted the call and was installed as Pastor on October 31, 2004.  Pastor Dorsey has challenged the Church to move from membership to discipleship and established the current church theme, “Hope is Here” – Psalm 39:7.  Under Rev. Dorsey’s leadership the Church has become more culturally diverse and community oriented.

Pastor Dorsey ordained the first female minister in Mount Zion’s history – Rev. Mary F. Short.  Deacon Darren Umble, a son of Mount Zion, accepted his call to the Ministry.  He was Licensed on June 3, 2012 and Ordained to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ on October 29, 2016. During Rev. Dorsey’s tenure the Children’s Ushers, Evangelism, Nurses and Audio Video ministries were created.  Several ministries were reactivated – the Women’s, Men’s fellowships and the Board of Christian Education. The significance Pastor Dorsey places on the youth and Christian education is demonstrated by his holding church school for youth ages 5 – 18 during the regular Sunday morning worship service.  The Evangelism Ministry is the first ministry of Mount Zion to win a Philadelphia Baptist Association (PBA) Mission Award.  The Church continues to be a leader in financial support of the Foreign Mission Board.