Original Free Will Baptist Church
Mt. Zion Free Original Will Baptist Church, formerly known as Little Rock, was organized by the Rev. Hardy Whitley about the year 1908. The services were held In a one room school building that sat across the road from where the church is now. When weather permitted, services were held outside under a big hickory tree that stood in the yard. The old school building still stands on Mrs. Beulah Price's land.
There were 14 member of the community that helped organize the church. They were Hillary and Millie Boykin, Hardy and Dollie Boykin. Spencer and Louisa Boykin, Joseph and Allie Pittman. Ransom and Margaret Johnson, Malley and Bertha Johnson, and John and Elizabeth Jones. Mrs. Bertha Johnson was the last one of the charter members. She passed away in 1983. Mrs. Bessie Johnson, daughter of Hardy and Dollie Boykin still attends this church. Also, many grandchildren and great grandchildren still attend here.
When Preacher Whitley came to preach, he would stay all night with some of the members. Several of our members remember when Preacher Whitley and the other early preachers visited in their childhood homes.
Since the membership was so small, they only had two deacons. The first deacons were Spencer Boykin and Joseph Pittman. Now we have five deacons. The first clerk was Malley Johnson.
Baptizing in the early days was done down the hill at the bridge where the reservoir is now. There was a mill there and the Church used the mill pond. The new members of the Church changed clothes in the house that stood there. We then baptized over at Taylor's Bridge. In the year 1951, the largest group of converts was baptized in the creek. Rev. Milford Hales baptized 32 of us at that time. We now use our baptistery, which was completed in 1976.
The main body of our present church building was built in 1912. It was built where the cemetery is now. There was a big tree in the comer of the lot. The land was given by Ransom and Margaret Johnson. The members searched for big rocks to make the foundation. The members furnished the timber for the building. A huge tree was given by Hillary Boykin to make the floor. The church members did the work. The church was built very high off the ground in the back. This had to be because the land was so unlevel. Some of our members remember that the children played under the church while the older people visited in the front yard after services.
During the first years of our church, the communion service was much like the original Lord's Supper. We all recall reading in the Bible about the communion cup. Jesus drank from the cup and then passed it to His disciples. Our communion was like that. but as the church grew, it became more of a problem for each to drink out of the same cup. On a trip to Baltimore. Mrs. Pearl Stallings. daughter of Ira Crocker, found our present communion set. After the church approved it, Pearl. Miss Lillian Crocker, and Mrs. Bertha Johnson bought the set and gave it to the church. The year was 1943.
During the previous years the church had been painted and kept up. but it still remained the one room. About the year 1945. the two rooms on the sides were built and the choir loft was added. We still heated with a big wood heater which sat in the center of the church. I remember Rayford Johnson, Mrs. Bessie Johnson's son, coming and starting the fires for us.
Of course, there were marriages during all these years, but until the year 1949 there had not been a "wedding" at Mount Zion Church. The first church wedding was for Nadine Johnson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Johnson, and Raymond Crocker, son of Mr. and Mrs. Johnnie Crocker. Rev. Hales performed the ceremony. It was a first for all concerned.
While Preacher Lassiter was here (1952-63), we built the kitchen and two long rooms across the back. We also put in space gas heaters. And the membership continued to grow. Preacher Lassiter would eat lunch with some member of the church every Sunday. He was a welcomed guest always, with his quiet ways. Sometimes when he visited, he would read and study while he rested for the evening service. Most of the time, however, he would want to go to visit someone and pray for them.
Since the year 1949, Mrs. Josephine Johnson was our pianist. Her assistants Included Marie Johnson, Sherrie House. Gail Hawley, and Deborah Aycock. Mrs. Johnson passed away in March, 2001. Mrs. Deborah Aycock is our pianist now, with Mrs. Rhonda Godwin as her assistant.
During all these years, many spiritual changes have occurred, along with the physical appearance of the building. Many movements have come through our community, some good and some not so good. Our church, yours, mine, and God's, was built by Free Will Baptists, with God's help. It is impossible to name all the great leaders we have had during the 95 years that Mount Zion Church has been in existence. We pray that we will be remembered by generations to come as "God fearing Christians" like we remember our ancestors.
As you can see. much has been done to the building. From a one-room building sitting on a half acre to our brick church on about 4 or 5 acres. Our membership has grown from the original 14 members up to 282 and now at a steady 181. But we must remember, it takes membership in God's church to get us into Heaven. As we Journey through life and the storms come, we must keep the conviction of our salvation. Let us each pray each for the other that we might inherit the Kingdom of God, as we have inherited this wonderful Original Free Will Baptist Church with its great history of spiritual leaders.
This site was last updated 04/01/16