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Cullman’s Mount Zion holds centennial celebrationcomment (0)

September 24, 2009

By Lindsey Holland

At 100 years old, Mount Zion Baptist Church, Cullman, is far from being frail.

Situated along a winding road in Cullman County, this East Cullman Baptist Association church is strong and growing.

“The church started out very small and every decade, it has grown,” said Jan Carter, a 16-year member of Mount Zion Baptist.

While records do not indicate how many people attended the church’s first service, about 160 now attend Sunday School each week. And as the number of people continues to grow, so do the ministries to reach them, according to Pastor Randy Sellers.

For instance, children’s church was added because Mount Zion may be traditional in its approach, “but at the same time, we focus on youth and children because they are our future,” Sellers said.

While the church is looking to the future, it hasn’t forgotten the past.

On July 19, in recognition of its century of ministry, Mount Zion received commemorative plaques from East Cullman Association and the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission.

According to records, the church was organized in Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Cullman on July 17, 1909, as Mount Zion Missionary Baptist in Cullman’s Welti community. John David Goodson, who served as deacon and Sunday School superintendent, donated the land for the church and, in return, was given the privilege of naming it.

Mount Zion’s history is replete with people who have displayed a servant’s heart.

One example is Leonard Bonner. In the 1940s, Bonner, who was Sunday School superintendent, would arrive at the church before everyone else and build a fire in the potbellied stove. Some mornings, he would trek through the wind and rain to build a fire and no one else would show up.

Another example is Vesta Harris, the father of current member Ruth Harris Duke. She remembers how in the 1940s, he would hitch his mules to a wagon and stop to pick up neighbors on the way to church, which only held services once a month. In 1979, the congregation voted to hire a full-time pastor.

Since 1970, Mount Zion has occupied the same building. In 1984, the year the church celebrated its 75th anniversary, a fellowship hall and 10 Sunday School classrooms were added. In 1999, Mount Zion invested in adjacent land and subsequently built a multipurpose room for children’s events and church celebrations, among other activities. 

According to Sellers, who has been pastor since September 1991, the church is striving to be a strong witness for Christ in the community, with the primary goal of reaching the lost.

“We also strive to be such an influence in the community so that we can provide ministry to folks that are in need of ministry,” he said.

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