CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A historical church in downtown Charleston is celebrating 138 years of service. Through the Jim Crow era, the Civil Rights Movement, hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires, Mt. Zion AME church has stood strong for nearly fourteen decades.
Originally joined with another Charleston church, Mother Emanuel AME Church, in October 1882 Mt. Zion was created.
“The two churches were one church and on that historic day, hundreds of members left Mother Emanuel and marched to Mt. Zion and established this church which was the first brick church owned by blacks in Charleston,” said Pastor Kylon Middleton of Mt. Zion.
Today’s anniversary celebration was held virtually because of the pandemic, but the special service still sent a strong message.
“So our theme this year is restore, reconcile, and retain and sustained legacy of resilience,” said Pastor Middleton.
A video montage showing the church’s history coupled with intergenerational participation through prayer and sermon made up the virtual anniversary service.
Mt. Zion is still shut down because of the pandemic and Pastor Middleton said this forced the church to press the reset button and find other ways to deliver services to members.
That’s being done through virtual services on Facebook live, zoom, and a call-in option.
“Through the pandemic, our reach is broader, our impact is greater and we have been able to serve people in ways that we were not initially,” said Middleton.
Another way the church is celebrating this year is through a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion project.
“The color on the outside is going to change,” said the pastor. “We’re going to be adding a reflective prayer garden also dedicated to our Mother Emanuel 9. It’ll still have the same old feel, but it’ll have a lot of modern-day advances.”
Some of those advances include television screens and other technology inside the church.
The renovation, expected to be complete sometime in 2023, will ensure Mt. Zion AME Church remains a pillar of downtown Charleston for many decades to come.
For more about the church, visit their website here.