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History of Mount Zion A. M. E. Church

Mount Zion AME Church, 1305 East Cheves Street was first established around 1870. However, written documents could not be found for the years prior to 1893. In 1893, the members purchased property at 126 South Ravenel Street. The Rev. D. M. McGill was the pastor. In 1903, The Rev. A. W. Weston was appointed the pastor. Under his leadership, the first edifice named Mt. Zion AME Church was constructed. This was a wooden structure. 

The first brick structure of Mt. Zion AME Church was erected in 1916, at 128 South ravenel Street. Pastor rev. U. S. Rice and trustees, including Mr. daniel Lane, Sr., secured a $14, 000.00 mortgage loan. This loan required a yearly payment of $700.00. According to an April 16, 1920 document, the property at 126 Soouth Ravenel Street was used as collateral. Rev. Rice was succedded in pastorial duties by: reverend J. E. Thomas, who was later promoted to presiding elder, Reverends Samuel Nance, W. E. Richardson, J. S. Coe and J. C. Quarles. 

The final mortgage payment was made in early 1940's. Mr. B. d. Lakin was one of the trustees during that time. 


The Ravenel Street parsonage was built by Pastor Steward, Mr. T. A. Alston, assisted by Mr. Daniel Lan, Sr. The church bell, located on the present site, was donated by Mr. T. A. Alston. 


Reverend I. W. Jenerette was the pastor from  1949-1955. On December 26, 1954, Mt. Zion was destroyed by fire! October 1955, rev. Longfellow B. Burgess was appointed pastor and for the next year and eleven months, mt. Zion's congregation worshipped in The Lucas Street Masonic Hall. After that time period, Worship service was held in The Cumberland U. M, Church Mission on Kemp Street. 


A new $75,000.00 edifice was built at 811 East Checves Street in 1957. The church was paid for in eight years! After this, a $10.000.00 central air condition system was installed. Between 1955 and 1980, the church family grew in numbers and organizations. The L. B. Burgess Ensemble was orgainzed and they are still singing praises to God!


In 1970, Rev. L. B. Burgess led in the construction of The Mt. Zion AME Apartments, a no-profit complex which housed families of low to moderate income. Dr. George A. Williams, Sr and Mr. Phillip Brown were members of the original board of directors. 


Rev. L. B. Burgess, Mr. Andrew Kinder, Ms. Mary Walker, and Mr. Jerry Keith, Sr., led the negotiations with McLeod Regional Medical Center for the sale of the property at 811 East Cheves Street and the purchasing of the 1305 East Cheves Street property.


During the summer of 1980, one of Rev. Burgess' last projects was to have the members purchase the church parsonage at 711 Pitty Pat Drive. November 1980, Rev. L. B. Burgess retired after twenty-five years of dedicated service to Mt. Zion and the Florence community.


Reverend Christopher Columbus Burgess succeeded his brother, Rev. "L. B." as pastor and served from November, 1980 to October 1983. Church growth contnued to abound and plans for a new church at 1305 East Cheves Street continued. 


The sale of 811 East Cheves Street property was finalized; a loan was procured to finace the 1305 East Cheves Street edifice, and the celebration of the Ground Breaking Ceremony at 1305 East Cheves Street were all accomplished during rev. r. C. Wright's time of service from October 1983 to December 1984.


December 2, 1984, Rev. Julius H. McAllister, Sr. was appointed pastor. H, his wife and trhee children were welcomed with opened arms. Rev. McAllister assisted The Building Committee which was in place when he arrived--in supervising the construction of the present edifice. Mr. Andrew Kinder chaired the Building Committee, Ms. Martha R. Miller served as secretary and Mrs. Mary A. Willams chaired the Decorating Committee. The construction of the nearly $700,000,00 complex was completed during the summer of 1985. The Mt. Zion Church Family entertained the first Northeast S. C. Annual Conference at this site, October 9-13, 1985.


Innovative fund raising methods were utilized to assist in paying-off the mortgage by September 1988. During his twenty-four years at Mt. Zion, one of the changes made by Rev. McAllister was to organize The Commission on Stewardship and Finance which administers the financial program of the church. Rev. McAllister was elected Bishop of the AME Church in 2008. He was then appointed to serve the twentiedth Episcopal District. 


On November 9, 2008, The Mt. Zion Church Family received Rev. Merritt B. Graves as their new leader. He, his wife and their son were officially welcome to Mt. Zion an the Florence Community, December 19, 2008. The church sponsored reception had participants from the church, the city, the county, and the state. 


Rev. Graves' preaching of The Word and his thoughful, caring ways of dealing with the members have helped thrust Mt. Zion into an exciting, spirit-filled NEW BEGINNING!

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