"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip Godís people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ."
(Ephesians 4:11-12, NLT)
Church and Pastoral History
In 1866, after the end of the Civil War, First Baptist Church of Belton followed the example of her sister churches and passed a formal resolution dismissing Colored members and denying them the privilege of rejoining the church. Nevertheless, provisions were made to aid the Colored members in establishing their own churches.
Due to conditions of that time, the first church location was in a brush arbor, where about twelve to fifteen Christians worshipped. During the first four years, the group worshipped with Rev. Peter Walker (a White pastor) who was the leader and organizer of the church. In 1868, Mount Zion and fifteen other Colored churches met and organized the Rocky River Association of Anderson County.
Reverend Frank Morris (a Colored minister) was unanimously elected as pastor. During the time from 1866 – 1874, the Freedmen’s church operated under the name of Mount Zion without a charter. On April 16, 1875, the charter was granted and Mount Zion Baptist Church became a reality. The first building, a log cabin, was erected near where the present church stands. A wood structure replaced the first church and that building was later destroyed by fire.
Reverend Stewart Oliver was elected pastor in 1886 and served until 1933. It was under his administration that the first brick structure was built. The building was completed on August 11, 1911 at a cost of $3,000.
Six pastors served Mount Zion between the years of 1933-1968: Reverend S. C. Campbell, 1933; Reverend C. H. Brown, 1937; Reverend M. T. Coker, 1938; Reverend J. D. Hicks, 1938; Reverend L. R. Best, 1943; and Reverend W. J. Marshall, 1965. The church continued to thrive and serve the community.
In 1968, Reverend Earl F. Mathis of Florence, South Carolina was elected as pastor. As the membership grew, and the existing building aged, Reverend Mathis and the congregation found it necessary to build a new church. In 1977, the current building was constructed on the same site as the previous church. Additionally, a parsonage was built near Belton. Reverend Mathis and the church family were financially blessed and held a Mortgage Burning Ceremony in 1990.
|Reverend Mathis retired from full time ministry in 1996 and was replaced by Reverend Alfred D. Nelson. Reverend Nelson led many youth to Christ and they became very active in ministries of Mount Zion. In 1998, Reverend Nelson resigned the pastorate of Mount Zion and, with the blessings of the church, answered God's call to return to ministry in his hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri.|
|Reverend William Cowan (a Belton native) was named interim pastor during 1998 and 1999, and continued serving faithfully as assistant pastor for the next eight years. He remains a member of Mount Zion, although he left his assistant pastor position in 2007 to become pastor at another local church.|
|Minister Kenneth A. Dean of Piedmont, South Carolina was elected pastor of Mount Zion in 1999. Mount Zion is his first pastorate. Under Pastor Dean's guidance, the church continues to experience steady growth in weekly worship and Bible Study attendance, church membership, and ministry participation. There are relevant community outreach initiatives including the Zion Street Community Center and all the activities it houses. The church also continues to work with the city of Belton and Anderson County to revitalize the neighborhood around Mount Zion.|