February 17, 2022
Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, located in Belton, TX is the oldest Black Church in the Central Texas Conference. The church was built in 1893 and was added to the National Registrar of Historic Places in 1990.
The original worship space was a stucco building erected on the banks of Nolan Creek under the direction of Rev. Ponton in 1893. This is where the congregations of Mt. Zion met through the May 10, 1939, union of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the Methodist Protestant Church, which formed the Methodist Episcopal Church of America. On April 23, 1968, the Methodist Episcopal Church united with the Evangelical United Brethren and formed the United Methodist Church, with Mt. Zion continuing to meet in its original location, now under the leadership of Rev. Charles Espie.
Plans for a new sanctuary were conceived by Rev. Millard Rucker in 1971. In December 1973, construction began under the leadership of Rev. Glover Thomas. The sanctuary in use today was attached in front of the original stucco church and consecrated by District Superintendent Dr. Michael Pattison on September 15, 1974.
The video below features Brother Elbert Demerson, one of the oldest living members of Mt. Zion, reflecting upon his history with church and how his love for music ministry in the church transformed him from a shy and silent member into a leader and innovator in the church’s musical history. Additionally, Sister Deborah Jacobs offers a passionate observation of why a church like Mt. Zion UMC remains so important to the community and to the history of Black Churches.