Dr. John H. Grant
The Visionary 1989 -
The fifth and present pastor of Mt. Zion, Dr. John H. Grant, immediately realized that Mount Zion had great potential to expand in order to meet the future needs of the church and the community. The 6&4 Capital Improvement Plan was instituted by the church and additional properties have been purchased under his leadership. Mount Zion Community Development, Inc., organized under Pastor Grant's leadership, is a non-profit community-based redevelopment corporation organized to focus on (1) empowerment of the individual and community by providing spiritual, economic, and educational opportunities to the greater Asheville/Buncombe County community to address the needs for jobs, housing, crime prevention, education, and health care; and (2) collaboration with local community-based organizations in the physical redevelopment of the "Block" for housing and supportive services.
Dr. John W. White
The Organizer 1947 - 1989
World War II put an end to the Great Depression, and the returning veterans both white and black, found the the U.S. poised to lead the world in every category of living. The G.I. bill allowed these young men and women to educate themselves and the U.S. Supreme Count began to overturn "Jim Crow" laws. The Civil Rights Era had begun. The man selected to lead Mount Zion in this period was Rev. John Walter Dickson White, from Bertie County, where he had been an elementary school teacher for eight years. Rev. White was active with the General Baptist State Convention and served as its president for five years. For six years he served as a chairma of the board of the trusteed of Shaw University, his alma mater. Rev. White received an honorary dictorate degree from Shaw in June of 1955. White was a Chrisitan Leader on the state and national levels. Locally, he played an important role in the organization of the the YMI Culture Center. The planned and ran, with the help of the congregration, the first black Vacation Bible School with an enrollment of 432 and eight weekds of Summer Bible Camp.
These were the days of the Baby Boomers and children were every were in numbers. The Mount Zion children loved this man and he seemed to know each one by name and the families from which they came. Because of the children, education was alwasy a big priority in those days. The Church dreamed of an educational building.
Rev. John Hairston
The Dedicator 1926 - 1947
Rev. John Hairston, of Salisbury, was selected to lead Mount Zion in the first half of the 20th Century. Black Veterans who had returned from World War I, and fought in a far less segregated Europe, found America still racist and unequal. Nevertheless, Rev. Hairston a national leader in the Baptist faith, was called to be the third pastor and move the hugh congregation forward. Renovations were planned and completed which including a $20,000 pipe organ. Rev Hairston came up with the idea of the Wings. This entailed organizing the membership into smaller more manageable groups from all parts of town, thus the East, West, North and South Wings. Rev. Hairston also started the work of the Junior Department, training young people in the doctrine and history of the church. He had 21 years of effective leadership. Within two decades, the $100,000 mortgage was burned and all debts liquidated. Rev. Hairston went to be with the Lord May 7, 1947.
Rev. Jacob Nelson
The Builder 1897 - 1926
Founder Rev. Robert Parker Rumley secured the services of a talented young, Rev. J.R. Nelson. The early days of Rev. Nelson's ministry, the church was often crowded to capacity. The membership grew rapidly, and within a few years the need for a larger facility arose. Rev. Jacob Nelson negotiated to purchase property for a new church at the corner of Spruce and Eagle streets. This first church was replaced by a second which because of membership growth was also replaced in 1919 by the present edifice at 47 Eagle Street. It was erected by James V. Miller and was an architectural marvel for it time. Rev. Nelson was a dynamic Christian. He was a gifted Baritone who frequently engaged in uplifted songs. The church was filled to capacity each Sunday. After 30 years of faithful pastoring, Rev. Nelson went to be with the Lord on Many 26, 1926.
Rev. Robert Rumley
The Founder 1880 -1897
Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. James 4:10
The founding pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Robert Rumley, 1880-1897, resigned as Pastor of Nazareth First Baptist Church and founded Mount Zion with a small group of Christians. In the Fall of 1880 in Reynolds Hall on Patton Avenue. This band of Christians invited Rev. Frederick Brown from Greenville, South Carolina to conduct a revival during which Rev. Brown said, "I will name this church Mount Zion because I have never known a Mount Zion that did not thrive." Rev. Rumley served this congreg