KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Mount Zion Baptist Church was founded in 1860, three years before the emancipation proclamation, after three African-Americans broke away from the First Baptist Church of Knoxville to form a congregation of their own.
On Sunday, the church held a special service with the theme of rebuilding God’s walls with strengthened hands to celebrate the milestone. Author Doctor Michael Dyson made a special guest appearance. He was once an associate minister at the church.
“We, the pastor and people of the mount Zion Baptist Church of Knoxville, Tennessee are thankful for these 155 years of Christian witness and service,” said Senior Pastor Johnnie W. Skinner, Senior. “We are thankful for the hundreds of people who made it possible for us to come to this time of celebration. So many have come before us and made sacrifices to make sure that the work of God would continue to this present day and beyond.”
The oldest African American Baptist Church in Knoxville has helped bring major change to the community. The church helped build homes for low income families with Habitat for Humanity, brought books into the hands of children in undeserved communities through their “Literacy Imperative” program and also host an after school program for area kids called “Just Lead.”
While Mount Zion Baptist Church is celebrating 155 years, Pastor Skinner said they’re focusing on the future and what they need to do in the years to come. “We must continue to worship, witness and serve; feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, look after our children and support our ministries, which seek to reach those who need our help,” he said. “Let us ensure that, with God’s help, the next 155 years will be brighter and even more glorious than the first 155 years, and that we do all that we do to the glory of God.”