Mt. Zion Church of Christ celebrates 120 years

The Mt. Zion Church of Christ will celebrate its homecoming Sunday beginning with a 10:30 a.m. worship service.

The women of the church will provide a meal after the worship service. A song service and recap of the history will be held at 2 p.m. The guest speaker will be Bro. Glen Redd.

Mt. Zion Church of Christ is the oldest congregation among Churches of Christ in Lincoln County. It was on the second Sunday in October 1894 that Bro. N.L. Clark and a group of men met at the Johnson Grove School and set in order what was afterwards known as The Mt. Zion Church of Christ. The Johnson Grove Church of Christ now stands where the old Johnson Grove School once stood.

For current minister Ronnie Lofton, the church’s history is very near and dear.

“I kind of feel like the Lord brought me home to that congregation,” he said, counting off three generations of his ancestors who are buried in the cemetery. “It’s special to me that my family roots run so deep in that congregation. I feel so privileged to serve in that community at Mt. Zion.”

The first gospel meeting in the community was conducted by Bro. Clark in the summer of 1896 under a brush arbor constructed on property owned by Victor Lard. Lard donated four acres of land and in October of 1896 a small-framed church building was erected.

Sometime later it was destroyed by a storm and the congregation met at Johnson Grove until another building was constructed. Newt Foster, Eddie Watts and Elbert Lard did the work. (The name Lard was later changed to Laird.)

The first elders at Mt. Zion were Elbert Case and Elbert Laird. Around 1940, Clarence Dixon agreed to give the congregation some land across the road to be used to build a larger church. Bro. Rufus Case owned a sawmill and supplied the lumber. Louis Watts was the main carpenter, and several church members gave of their time and talents in the construction. When the new building was completed, Dixon used the old church to build a small house for his mother and crippled sister.

Instead of having two rows of benches like most churches, the new building had three rows. There were also benches on each side of the pulpit. People called those “amen corners.” As the years passed, that building had renovations, additions and improvements twice. It was finally conquered by termites and torn down.

A fellowship hall had already been constructed on the site where the first little churches stood. The congregation met there while the new church was being built. Rodney King, a member of the church and also a building contractor, and his crew constructed the new building in 1995. It is where the church still meets today.

Some of the earlier leaders of the church were Rufus Case, and Jim Redd (both men served as elders,) T.E. Newby and N.F. Jacks. Bro. Buford Steward labored with the congregation from 1960 to 1978. The church experienced good growth during this period. Bro. Tim Hutton assisted the church for about a year during the 1970s. During the 1980s Bros. Terry Vaughn and Marcus McCormick were ministers for the congregation. Bro. Doug Kimble worked with the congregation from 1992-2003. Bro. Ronnie Lofton, who now serves the congregation, began his work in February 2004. His wife, Sharon, is Justice Court Clerk for Lincoln County.

The Mt. Zion Church has indeed been blessed over these past 120 years. The congregation continues to prosper. There are two worship services each Sunday, 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“We hope to serve this community for another 120 years,” Lofton said.

The church currently supports a missionary family in India and the Berean children’s home.

There is a special Youth Bible Study and Training each Sunday at 5 p.m. A service is also conducted on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. There is a Ladies Bible Study on Thursday mornings at 9:30 a.m. An annual soup supper is held in February. A Fall Festival is held each year in October. The women always do something special for nursing home residents during the Christmas season.

A gospel meeting is held each year beginning on the third Sunday in July. The church also has a two-acre cemetery across the road from the church. Everyone is always welcomed at The Mt. Zion Church of Christ.

<ParaStyle:Italic> Much of the information was taken from a previous article written by Marlene Rushing as well as from the autobiography of N.L. Clark.