The Development of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church
In April 1880, the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church was organized by the Rev. C.J. Scott, who came to Orlando from Monticello, Florida. Rev. Scott built a “bush arbor” for Mount Zion on the corner of Robinson Street and the east side of North Division Street, and a weekly program of Christian services and worship was established. (Note: Some church documents suggest that the original location of the church was on the corner of Robinson and Chatham Streets where the parsonage was located for many years; however, church officials could not verify that assertion.) Rev. Scott resigned after pastoring six years leaving the church well established.
Rev. G.W. Jones was called to the pastorate of the church in 1886. Following his passing away, the Church called Rev. J.W. Stokes who pastored for 13 years.
Rev. H.K. Hill succeeded Rev. Stokes in 1910. It was during his administration that the original Mount Zion moved to the corner of Washington and Chatham Streets. Mr. Gabriel Jones, father of the late Sister Eunice Jones, donated the property, where today the “Jones Town” condominiums are located.
In 1911, under the pastorate of Rev. H.K. Hill, Mr. James T. Murrell, a skilled contractor, was brought to the Orlando area from Gainesville, Florida, to build the church parsonage on the corner of Robinson and Chatham Streets. The winding staircase was one of the outstanding features of the two story frame house. Impressed with the work of Mr. Murrell, in 1912 the Church Officers, under the direction of Rev. H.K. Hill, engaged him to renovate the small church located at Washington and Chatham Streets into a larger one. Mr. Murrell was the father of Mrs. Mattie L. Starke, who volunteered serving as one of the Church Organists for many years.
Rev. Hill and Mrs. Hill worked in partnership and brought to the Orlando community such activities as Women’s Day and Boys and Girls Scouting. They also created singing groups that received highest ratings in state singing conventions. Mrs. Viola T. Hill served many years in the State and National Baptist Conventions, and helped establish Mount Zion as one of the leading churches in the convention. One of the most memorable programs Mrs. Hill replicated from the conventions and implemented at Mount Zion was to set aside a Sunday to recognize women in their churches for their outstanding Christian service. This day is known as “Women’s Day” which Mt. Zion continues to celebrate every fourth Sunday in October along with the addition of special services focusing on women serving in church and community, such as “Evening in White,” “Hattitude Brunch,” and participation in the annual “Strides Against Breast Cancer” 5K walk in downtown Orlando.
On April 24, 1928, two lots were purchased from Mr. Arthur Lismore on Robinson Street. On May 8, 1928, $900 was appropriated for laying the foundation of a new church building on the corner of Robinson Street and Parramore Avenue. On May 31, 1928, excavation started and grade was set for the new church building by the City of Orlando. Mr. Julius Bishop and Mr. Quash Thompson dug the first ditch. Mr. Sino Wilson and Mr. William Armstead set stakes. Mr. Quash Thompson, Mr. Charlie Mack, and Mr. N.F. Bishop dug the second ditch. Unfortunately, the dream of a new church building on this site never materialized.
Pastor Hill served Mount Zion, the State and National Conventions diligently and conscientiously (First Vice President of the National BYPU and Sunday School Congress) for 19 years until his passing, September 9, 1929.
The Rev. P.J. Gethers was accorded pastoral powers on October 31, 1929, until the Church either called a permanent pastor or made a change.
On April 18, 1930, the Rev. R.L. Jones succeeded Rev. Gethers. It was under his administration that the Department of Religious Education was established, and on December 31, 1930, Sister Mattie L. Rigell was elected Supervisor of Religious Education. On January 28, 1941, Sister L. Claudia Allen was elected to this position and the name was changed to Director of Religious Education, due to Sister Allen’s advanced education in academia and exceptional professional experience in Orange County Public Schools. Rev. Jones served as pastor until the end of 1940.
On January 21, 1941, Rev. Moses Crooms, Jr. was elected as Supply Pastor, and he willingly served until the church called Rev. A.M. Means on April 29, 1941. During Rev. Mean’s administration, three rooms were added to the old church. Rev. Means resigned on June 28, 1945.
During the last six months of 1945, the church was without a leader. Pastor A.C. Crooms, Moderator of the West Coast Association, acted as Supply Pastor. On December 16, 1945, a fire badly damaged the interior of the church building. Mr. Banks, an active member of the church and also the Principal of Jones High School allowed the fellowship to hold services in the school’s auditorium while repairs were being conducted.
On May 5, 1946, by unanimous vote, the Rev. Nathaniel Green Staggers was called to the pastorate of Mount Zion as permanent pastor. Rev. Staggers began full pastoral duties of the church on August 12, 1946. Rev. Staggers was a very forward-thinking leader and during his long and distinguished pastorate, many innovative things happened at Mount Zion, including:
- A church office was established at the parsonage in October 1952, with a full-time secretary, a model that other African American Churches in the City subsequently followed.
- Mount Zion became an incorporated body on July 3, 1953.
- A spiritual and financial program on the basis of stewardship and tithing was established.
- A Junior Deacon Board was established in conjunction with a prerequisite training class for those recruited.
- A membership training class was instituted
- An Annual Youth Day was established.
- Circle Districts were expanded to eight.
- Many committees were formed, including Church Worker’s Council and Transportation.
The Incorporation of the church led to its present operational structure with spiritual leadership of the pastor being supported by a Board of Deacons and a Board of Trustees. It was during this period of time under Pastor Staggers’ leadership that Deacon James Bates became Chairman of the Deacon Board, and Deacon Booker T. Helms became Chairman of the Trustee Board. This was the triumvirate of leadership in 1955 that led to the most aggressive project of any African American Church in Central Florida’s history. The building of a structure valued at $250,000.00, which was quite an accomplishment at that time.
In 1955, at the recommendation of Rev. Staggers, the church elected Deacon Booker T. Helms, who owned and operated Helm’s Concrete and Paving Company, as Chairman of Mount Zion’s Building Committee. On January 29, 1956, Mount Zion had its Ground Breaking Service and on February 13, 1956, the foundation was laid for the new edifice on the northwest corner of Chatham and Washington Streets, opposite what was then the “old wooden church.” In April 1961, the floors were completed but due to limited finances, construction was stopped. It was Deacon Helms’ connection to the building community that enabled him to persuade Mr. Eugene Kelsey, a notable contractor, to partner with Mount Zion. Through this partnership the building project of seven years was finally realized on March 18, 1962, when the first church service was held. Members celebrated by giving God the Glory, and thanking Him for sending a leader who strongly believed in teaching and advocating for the Bible’s plan of tithing, which led to years of members contributing to the building project from their small salaries that were typical of the time and for the hands on labor that many engaged in every Saturday at the building site, for example, Deacon B. J. Burns, an entrepreneur in the field of landscaping and Trustee W. J. Fluitt, the agricultural teacher at Jones High School, who were both longtime members, led the crew of volunteers from the church to do the original landscaping of the church. The church was valued at $250.000.00, which was quite an achievement for an African American congregation in the 1950s-1960’s. In 1976, Mt. Zion paid off the hefty mortgage by selling its properties that once housed the parsonage and its parking lot (where the wooden church had existed) to the State of Florida to make way for the State of Florida’s Crime Lab and Administrative Building.
On May 27, 1962, the “Dedication Services” were held in the new edifice, conducted by Rev. Nathaniel Green Staggers and Rev. H. Leon Lowry, pastor of Beulah Baptist Institutional Church, Tampa, Florida, and one of Tampa’s most influential Civil Rights Activists as well as the first African American elected to the Hillsborough County School Board. Reverends Lowry and Staggers were like-minded colleagues and advocated the belief of churches being involved in the betterment of the community.
Deacon Helms’ daughter, Catherine Helms Fleming, a graduate of Boston Conservatory of Music sang “Bless this House.” Deacon Helms also served in the roles of Superintendent of Sunday School, Trustee and Chairman of the Trustee Board. He faithfully served in these capacities until his passing in 1965.
After being personally recruited by Rev. Staggers, Wilbur S. Gary, Sr. was elected by the Church to become Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the youngest chairman ever elected at that time, and who faithfully served for more than 20 years and oversaw the church’s fiduciary responsibilities in an exemplary manner. Brother Gary, who was the Principal of Jones High, also served as a dynamic and engaging Sunday School Teacher to several members who were also students of his first graduating class (‘69).
Under the leadership of Rev. Staggers, the most active Missions Department to date was instituted. During Sister Carrie Henley’s tenure as Chairperson of the Missions Department, $1000 was raised through filled Gleaners and contributions to pay for a church in Africa, which was also to be named Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. The original cost was to be $500 but was increased to $1000. The church was finally built, but to date, no additional information has been received.
During Rev. Staggers’ tenure, Mt. Zion was the first African American church to go outside of the walls of the church and become actively involved in the community and the political arena to join the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960’s, Rev. Staggers was an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and inspired many members to join. Sister Bernice Wheeler served on the Executive Board and held the position of Executive Secretary, and Sister Georgia N. Woodley once served as the local Vice-President. In the early 1960’s when the local branch of NAACP filed a desegregation lawsuit against Orange County Schools, all of the plaintiffs came from the Mt. Zion congregation: Brother J.P. Ellis, Sisters Georgia N. Woodley, Altamese Pritchett, Mavis Starkes, Emma Gaines Little and Willie and Marie Curry.
Pastor Staggers served Mt. Zion faithfully for 24 years. Many sons were born into the ministry through him: Rev. Fred Maxwell, Rev. Nels Pate, Rev. A.F. Smart, Rev. J.C. Wyche, Rev. G.W. Helms, Rev. Harley White, Rev. Roscoe Wade, Rev. Early Wade, and Rev. C.W. Wade, just to name a few. On December 31, 1970, after a prolonged illness, Pastor Staggers resigned. The church honored his many years of outstanding service by conferring on him the title “Pastor Emeritus.” The distinguished Nathaniel Green Staggers passed away on April 2, 1978. Rev. Herman Brandon served the Mount Zion family as an interim pastor from January to October 1971.
In November 1971, the Rev. J.D. Ellis, Sr. began his tenure at Mount Zion. In 1972, the Department of Religious Education was reorganized and the name was changed to the Board of Christian Education. Sister L. Claudia Allen, who had been serving in that capacity since 1941, continued to serve in the capacity until her passing in 1975. Sister Leala R. Collins who had been serving as Sister Allen’s assistant since the late 1970’s was elected to serve as Chairperson of the Board. She continued to serve in that role until 2001 when she elected to change positions with her Co-Chair, Sister Alice Morgan Grant, who currently serves in the role of Chairperson of Christian Education Ministries. In 2003, Sister Collins passed away after faithfully serving for over 25 years.
In 1974, the church recognized two faithful servants, Deacon James Bates who had served as a deacon in Mount Zion from June 11, 1930 to July 12, 1973. In recognition of those faithful 43 years of service, the church conferred on him the honorary title of “Chairman Emeritus”. Also during 1974, the church honored Sister G.N. Woodley, who at that time had served in the role of Church Secretary for 21 years.
In October 1976, the church was without a pastor. In October 1977, the Joint Board of Officers requested the Rev. Earl Nobles to carry on Sunday Worship Service. He provided these services in an outstanding manner for eleven months. Briefly between December 1977 and June 1978, Rev. Young Glover assisted in the services at Mount Zion.
In November of 1978, the church called Rev. Henry Marion Steele as pastor. His accomplishments were notable. Approximately 120 members joined between November 1978 and April 1980, which intersected with the Church’s 100th year celebration. Pastor Steele organized the Henry Marion Steele (HMS) Mass Choir which was composed of choir members from each choir; consolidated Choir Number One and the Gospel Choir to become the Chancel Choir; increased the membership of the Junior and Youth Choirs along with the Junior and Youth Usher Board. He organized the American Baptist Youth Fellowship which included approximately fifty or more members, and also was responsible for several of our high school students being included in the Society of Distinguished American High School Students. Also in 1980, the position of “Membership Secretary” was created and Sister Dorothy Fluitt was the only person to ever serve in this capacity, and she did so for 17 ½ years. In the Spring of 1999 in a morning worship service, the church recognized Sister Fluitt for her years of dedicated service.
On April 20, 1980, Mount Zion reached the milestone of being the oldest and largest Black Baptist Church in Central Florida. Under Pastor Steele’s leadership, he coined the motto: “Mount Zion is the Church Where Everybody is Somebody and Christ is Supreme.” The finances of the church exceeded $100,000.00.
In 1981, Pastor Steele led the church to join American Baptist Churches, USA, Inc., which provided benefits such as retirement, medical and dental programs at the pastoral level. In addition, Mt. Zion gained access to new educational ministries and mission work (Home and Foreign). Because the church was already affiliated with National Baptist Inc., this dual alignment complimented and enhanced access to educational resources for the church.
Rev. Steele departed Mount Zion in 1981. This ended the first of two tenures for Rev. Steele.
In 1982, the Rev. Arthur D. Sims, Sr. was called to the pastorate of Mt. Zion. During Rev. Sims’ tenure, the following ministries were established or reactivated: the Radio Ministry, Junior Deacons, Congress of Christian Education, Brotherhood and Sisterhood, Children’s Church, Scholastic Honors and Awards program, Youth and Adult Ushers, Single Adult Ministry, and he formed the Angelic Choir. Rev. Sims also lobbied for and convinced the church to add access to medical benefits for fulltime staff through ABCOTS. He also instituted a Church Newsletter, emphasized Voter Registration, and added the McKnight Center of Excellence to the tutoring program, which was in partnership with the University of Central Florida. Weekly tutoring sessions conducted by Mount Zion’s members were held at Mt. Zion.
During Pastor Sim’s ministry, Mount Zion saw the growth of other ministers who were a part of the church family. Those ministers were Rev. Earl Nobles who later established the Pine Hills Community Church, and Rev. Erwin McWilson who organized King’s Way Baptist Church.
Rev. Sims served at Mount Zion until his resignation on February 19, 1990. Upon his departure, he organized and founded the Fellowship Baptist Church.
Being strong and continuing in faith in God, Mount Zion turned to Rev. Henry Peoples, an Associate Minister, and charged him with the responsibility along with other visiting ministers to carry out the worship services of Mount Zion until a permanent leader could be called.
In 1992, Rev. Henry Marion Steele was called back as pastor of Mount Zion. He preached his first returning sermon at the Watch Night Service on December 31, 1992. After returning to Mount Zion, Rev. Steele created the positions of Associate Minister to Youth, Associate Minister of Education, Associate Minister of Evangelism and Associate Minister of Missions, Administrative Assistant, Membership Secretary and Minister of Music. Also in 1992, the Golden Years Ministry, which is still in existence today, was reestablished by Sisters Beatrice Theodore, Willie Mae General and Prudence Pledge. During this timeframe, Sister General was also the catalyst for establishing the “Taste of Soul” which is celebrated every February during Black History Month.
In 1993, Mount Zion honored Sister Georgia Nell Woodley for 40 years of outstanding and dedicated service as the first full-time secretary of the church and a community leader. On December 31, 1997, Sister Woodley retired after having served Mount Zion for 45 years. On January 25, 1998, the church recognized her years of faithful service during the morning worship service and proclaimed the day “Georgia Nell Woodley Day”, and the City of Orlando gave her the “Keys to the City” for her servant leadership in Mt. Zion and the community.
On March 21, 1996, Associate Minister, Terry Bowser, and friend in the ministry Calixte Francois, were ordained. All choirs were renamed. Five deacons were ordained. Approximately 200 new members joined the church. In addition, the following improvements were implemented: new carpet in the sanctuary, narthex and stairways, new drapes for the Baptistery, blinds for rooms on the main floor, new computer system, FAX machine, Merlin phone system, new van, paving of the church’s parking lots, and on February, 1997, the adjacent properties were donated to the church by its owner, Mrs. Mary Truett.
Also under the leadership of Rev. Steele, Mount Zion became a part of the Orlando Area Inter-Faith Sponsoring Committee (OASIC) with our own Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for development of leaders to effect change in the community. However, Members of OASIC decided to rename the organization to better reflect their purpose, so through a friendly competition among the members the organization was renamed the Federation of Congregations United to Serve (FOCUS) by Rev. Ronald Sutton who was then an Assistant and Youth Pastor.
During the interim between the end of the pastorate of Rev. Steele and the arrival of the new pastor Rev. Errol G. Thompson, Sr., the Mount Zion family remained steadfast and active. During this time the congregation purchased the house of deceased member Sister Mattie Starke, which was adjacent to the Church’s property on the corner of Washington Street and Terry Avenue which became the church’s administrative office. Rev. Eddie Williamson, Associate Minister, executed the roles and responsibilities of preaching, teaching, and ministering to the church family with a capable, steady and loving hand. Rev. Ronald Sutton, Rev. Terry Bowser, and other ministers assisted him.
In July 2000, Mount Zion welcomed Rev. Errol G. Thompson. His installation took place on September 17, 2000. During his tenure, he promoted Mount Zion as a spiritual and political leader in the community. He established several ministries, including Youth Bible Study, Sheepfold Ministry, the reopening of the church nursery, the Kingdom Guards and the Radio Ministry. He established a Church website. The church family continued to increase in membership under his leadership, and he continued to emphasize teaching and the evangelistic mission of the church.
Rev. Thompson held membership in the West Coast Baptist Association and served as President of the Congress of Christian Education. When Rev. Thompson asked God for his will for Mount Zion, he revealed the following vision to him: (1) To build up the faith of the people (2) To build up the family of the people (3) To build up the fellowship (4) To build up the finances of the church.
In 2007, under the tenure of Rev. Thompson, the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church was designated as an Orlando Historic Landmark by the Historic Preservation Board of the City of Orlando. Trustee Lorenzo Ford and Sister Lula Ford were recognized as Church Historic Preservation Honorees for their ongoing labor and research which led to the recognition Mr. Zion received.
Rev. Thompson served Mt. Zion until his resignation in January 2010. Upon his departure, he organized and founded the New Life Fellowship Baptist Church.
Associate Ministers Rev. Dr. Eddie Williamson, Minister Carolyn Green and Rev. Terry Bowser ministered to the congregation during the interim.
On December 12, 2010, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Spooney, Mt. Zion’s current pastor was called to serve as the Interim Pastor. In January 2012, he was called as Senior Pastor and assumed full pastoral responsibilities. He was installed as Senior Pastor on April 25, 2012. Some of the achievements to which he has given leadership include:
A full range of weekday and Sunday services including a vibrant Wednesday evening prayer meeting and Bible study, ministry through preaching, teaching, baby blessings, baptism, communion service, funerals, counseling, visits to sick and shut-in and performance of weddings. Nearly 300 members have been added to the church family.
Support for ministry included Associate Ministers: Reverend Dr. Eddie Williams, Minister Carolyn Green, the late Rev. Terry Bowser, Rev. Oliver Jones, and Evangelist Ann Jones. In 2012, three new Deacons were trained and ordained. Additional Deacons were in training during 2013, and a total of ten new Deaconess were trained and dedicated along with two previously experienced Deaconess. Two long time Deacons, Deacons Willie Campbell and Ernest White, now Emeritus, were honored by the church for their decades of spiritual leadership, being faithful servants of God, active in the ministries of this church and in the community.
In the area of Christian Education, increased denominational involvement in West Coast Baptist Association, Florida General Baptist and ABCOTS has included a higher level of attendance of members and Pastor’s involvement in preaching, teaching and committee assignments. Pastor Spooney is currently President of the West Coast Congress of Christian Education. Within the past two years, Mt. Zion hosted the Florida General Baptist pre-convention Evangelistic Crusade and evangelistic outreach, the Annual Session of the West Coast Baptist Association, Congress of Christian Education and the ABCOTS Area IV meeting.
In 2011 and 2013, under the direction of Pastor Spooney, Mt. Zion applied for and received a $9000 “Eat Smart” grant for addressing obesity and teaching healthy eating habits and exercise to families in the church and the Callahan community.
Support for ministry through praise and worship included the addition of a Minister of Music to the music staff and the Jewels of Judah liturgical dance ministry being declared an outreach ministry.
Continuation of outreach to the community through participation in Fresh Start until the program ended, Saturday clothing ministry, food ministry, evangelistic ministry, being a site for the ACCESS program for a number of years, annual blood drive, additional efforts such as support for overcoming substance abuse program. Mission ministry, both home and foreign, was re-established with involvement including participation in ABCOTS White Cross project, (600 bandages made and shipped two years ago), participation in the Florida General Baptist Convention’s Haiti relief project and financial support for Missionary Everett’s work with children and youth in Uganda. Mt. Zion’s Men’s Ministry was established and lends support to outreach programs such as food and clothing ministries. The Golden Years Ministry continues to flourish. Mt. Zion serves as the host church for the Orlando Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America for its rehearsals, workshops and concerts.
Recent improvements to the physical structure include the renovation of the upstairs and downstairs women’s and men’s rooms. Several projects being planned for the future include updating and restoring windows in the sanctuary and throughout the church, other improvements to the physical plant, advanced use of technology including electronic bulletin boards, and purchase of a mini-bus.
In January 2015, Mount Zion was one of the sponsoring partners and host of the Ceremony honoring Bessie Coleman who was the first licensed African-American Pilot. Florida Senator, the honorable Geraldine Thompson, had sponsored legislation which resulted in the designation by the 2014 State Legislature of portions of West Washington Street as Bessie Coleman Street and the designation of a Bessie Coleman Day in Florida. The famed Aviator was part of Mt. Zion’s history. In 1926 during a speaking tour through Florida, she met and became friends with then Pastor, Rev. H. K. Hill and Mrs. Hill. For a time she lived with them in the parsonage and became a member of the Mount Zion family.
In April 2015 Mount Zion was selected by the Orlando Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., to receive the 2015 Community Partnership Recognition Award as a result of significant contributions, work and dedication in the community. The church was also designated in February 2015 as a “2nd Sabbath/Second Sunday Congregation” by the Negro Spiritual Foundation, an organization dedicated to the preservation of Negro Spiritual Heritage. For several years, Mt. Zion has served as host for the City of Orlando’s “City of Hope” honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King and featuring the Negro Spiritual Foundation. True to its heritage of going outside the walls of the church, Mt. Zion continues its active involvement in the Parramore Community of which it has an enduring presence during a time of dramatic growth and change in the area requiring civic and educational engagement, outreach and commitment for the betterment of all.
In April of 2016 Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church celebrated 136 years of ministering to and loving God’s people. At that time, the ministerial staff, in addition to Dr. Robert M. Spooney, Pastor, included Associate Ministers Rev. Dr. Eddie J. Williamson, Minister Carolyn Green, Rev. Oliver Jones and Evangelist Ann Jones. Rev. Oliver Jones and Evangelist Jones are currently serving in ministerial roles in another Central Florida congregation.
Some highlights of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 included the recommendation and church action to honor the life and work of Pastor Rev. N. G. Staggers whose distinguished service as under shepherd spanned twenty-five years by naming the lower church dining area as the Pastor Rev. Nathaniel G. Staggers Fellowship Hall; ordination and addition of five Deacons to the Deacons ministry, the conferring of Deacon Emeritus on Deacon Carl H. Lancaster after 21 years of faithful service; the preparation of several new Deaconess in training; the establishment of an outstanding church website; enhancement of music ministry and all choirs including the children and youth. Ministerial support was given by Rev. Tommy Moody who united with Mt. Zion during this time and served as Associate Minister until he moved from the area. Rev. Dr. Pamler Powell and Rev. Dr. Leroy Powell united and served briefly as part of the ministerial staff until accepting another assignment. Additionally, the following took place during the past year: painting of the inside of the sanctuary, updating of the sound system, purchase of a new van, purchase of new tables for the fellowship hall and installation of a new air conditioning unit.
Additional highlights of 2017 and the first months of 2018 included the addition to the ministerial staff which included the licensing of Evangelist Chelsea Nelson and the addition of Minister Adrian Davis. In September 2017, a service of dedication of Deaconess was conducted by Pastor Spooney and five new Deaconess became active members of the Deaconess Ministry. In September, Mt. Zion participated in hurricane disaster relief efforts along with other West Coast Baptist churches and contributed $1305.00. During the last quarter of 2017, the state of the art video-sound system was installed in the sanctuary.
Improvements to the physical plant continued with the addition of ceramic tile flooring to the Multipurpose Room. Community involvement continued with outreach to the homeless and others in need through food ministry, Saturday service and clothing ministry through the Men’s Ministry. Mt. Zion’s long time Mission Ministry continues to be involved in mission at the local church and community level as well as the West Coast district and state.
Mt. Zion’s educational outreach now includes its partnership with the new Orange County Public School Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) K-8 school in Parramore. Pastor Spooney and members of Mt. Zion are committed to active roles as part of its Community Leadership Council and are involved in some of the day to day activities of the school.
Mt. Zion along with other churches opened its parking lots to Orlando City Soccer with members taking responsibility for logistics of making safe parking available. In March 2018 the Well’s Built Museum and Orlando Chapter of the Links honored Sis. L. Claudia Allen posthumously as one of the “Women of the Movement” and presented her trophy to Mt. Zion. A few of her contributions included over three decades as Chair of Christian Education at Mt. Zion, her administrative leadership positions in the Orange County Public School district, her vision and action needed for providing a hospital located in the Washington Shores community for crippled children, and leadership in establishing the first Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops in the African American community beginning at Mt. Zion.
The history of Mt. Zion is filled with many names, faces, dates and includes Pastors, Associate Pastors, Deacons, Trustees, Deaconess, missionaries, musicians and countless men, women, youth and children who walked by faith. They have all served Mt. Zion in a variety of roles, the pastors and ten to twelve churches to which Mt. Zion gave birth. Thirteen pastors, five different structures, many supply pastors. Across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and into the second decade of the twenty-first century, the Mount, located in the near downtown area of the city, has continued in ministry giving glory to God and ministering to his people and all who need. The legacy begun by Pastor C.J. Scott and eight courageous and believing families continues as we pursue the goal of “Transforming the Past through God’s Will and Word into a Spiritually Healthy, Positive and Productive Future”, envisioned by our current pastor. Dr. Robert M. Spooney with inspiration from Romans 12:2 (KJV). “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”