The History of Mt. Zion
MT. ZION, one of the first black Pentecostal churches in Greensboro, North Carolina, began in the early 1900s when a small group of saints banded together and held services in different houses. Various ministers, who had great fervor for God, led these saints. By 1923, services were held on a stationary basis in a small building on McConnell Road. Reverend Curtis Edwards led the congregation for several years.
In 1929, Reverend W. H. Hall, who moved to Greensboro from Salisbury, became the pastor. He led the church in great revivals, which caused many souls to be saved and added to the church. After becoming affiliated with Bishop K. D. Christian of Albemarle, North Carolina, Reverend Hall became instrumental in bringing Mt. Zion into the United Church of God, which was at that time referred to as the Church of God, Colored. Although Reverend Hall’s pastorate ended in 1931, his work was firmly established. He maintained his enthusiasm for the church. He continued to conduct revivals, seek souls for Christ, and establish churches. Some of the churches he established were added to the United Church of God. Even though financial support was often low, he continued to travel frequently by train.
Reverend P. L. Ledbetter, later known as Bishop Ledbetter, became pastor in 1931 and served until his death in 1960. This great leader set up a storehouse, which served religious and economic needs of many residents of Greensboro. Bishop Ledbetter’s years as pastor of Mt. Zion were marked with great success. The church was usually filled to capacity for Sunday services. Bishop Ledbetter’s first wife, Sister Anna Ledbetter, preceded him in death. Bishop Ledbetter’s second wife, Mother Ida Ledbetter, worked untiringly in many areas of the church, and later served as the Southern District Mother of the United Church of God, Inc.
In April 1936, the Mt. Zion church was destroyed by a tornado. With little money but an abundance of faith, the congregation was able to restore the church to its original site by Thanksgiving of the same year.
By 1948, an usher board was established with Sister Virgie Hayes as its first president. Sister Lillie Younger later served as president. In 1948, the first missionary prayer band was established under the leadership of Mother Daisy Johnson and Mother Bertha Gilmer.
After Bishop Ledbetter’s death in 1960, Reverend G. W. Rice became pastor of Mt. Zion. He was later elevated to Vice Bishop of the United Church of God. Reverend Rice’s kind deeds and unshakable love for people made him an exceptional person. His wife, Sister Ruth Rice, shared these same traits, although in a less conspicuous manner. Reverend Rice placed much emphasis on the spiritual and temporal up building of the church. During his pastorate, the old edifice was renovated and enlarged. The dining room and concession stand were added. Bishop Rice seemed to never tire in working with his hands or in giving his money for the beautification of God’s house. Bishop Rice went home to be with the Lord in 1970. His wife, Mrs. Ruth Rice, who remained loyal to Mt. Zion, quietly made her Heavenly transition in 1984.
Striving diligently to achieve its purpose of outreach, training, Christian growth and development, Mt. Zion’s Sunday School has always been a vital auxiliary of the church. Deacon Dan Hayes was the superintendent for many years. After Deacon Hayes was called into the ministry, Deacon Cleo Moore became the superintendent. Deacon Moore’s love for the Sunday School was evident in his hard work and strong leadership. The members followed his leadership with an abounding love. His role as superintendent ended in 1976 when he went home to be with the Lord.
After Bishop Rice’s death, Reverend Vander Purcell became the pastor of Mt. Zion. The church continued to grow under Reverend Purcell’s ministry. He put into operation the plans for a modern church building, which would adequately accommodate the growing congregation. He remained the pastor until 1982. At that time a former Sunday School Superintendent of Mt. Zion and Senior Bishop of the United Church of God, Inc., Bishop Dan Hayes, became the pastor.
Bishop Dan Hayes was pastor of Mt. Zion until the Lord called him home in 1983. Although he served as pastor of Mt. Zion for only a short time, ten months, he had more than fifty years of dedicated service to the United Church of God, Inc.
In 1983, Bishop James Leak, the new Senior Bishop of the United Church of God, assigned Reverend James Richardson as pastor. Reverend Richardson spent much time trying to reunite the efforts of the congregation. With the help of this hard working group of saints, Reverend Richardson was able to see the congregation enter phase one of the new Mt. Zion Church.
The members of Mt. Zion rejoiced and gave thanks for the new edifice. Special gratitude went to the general church, which contributed finances to the program. The new site was designed to serve as the headquarters of the United Church of God. From the beginning, it was to be available for use as a center for conventions, assemblies, and conferences.
In 1986, Reverend Bernard Curry became pastor. Under the pastorate of Reverend Bernard J. Curry, the present structure of Phase II of the Convention Center and Headquarters (home of Mt. Zion United Church of God) was erected in 1996. On Sunday, July 30, 2006, the mortgage-burning ceremony was held for Phase II, the new sanctuary.
Under the leadership of Reverend Bernard J. Curry, the Church has grown and transformed with several additional auxiliaries, committees, and physical renovations. Our motto is: “We Are Striving for Excellence in Ministry.”