The members of the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, located on Williams Road, here in Macon County, were all smiles on Sunday, March 21, as they celebrated their 100th Anniversary. Pastor J.B. Shoulders graciously welcomed the large crowd to the 11:00 a.m. service, which was followed by a potluck lunch, reading of the church history by Chris Phillips and singing at 2:00 p.m.
The church, which has endured the test of time and the deadly wrath of Mother Nature, was organized on March 10, 1910, after Elders C.B. Massey and J.H. Ramsey began a series of meetings at the Williams School House in early February of that year. When a number of people in the community, who had benefited from the services being held nearby, suggested something more permanent, it was decided by the leading Christians in the vicinity to organize a church there at the school. On that early spring day 100 years ago, a presbytery was formed and an arm was extended from Spring Creek Missionary Baptist Church.
Elder C.D. Massey was elected as the first pastor and S.H. Dillard as the first clerk. On Saturday night before the 4th Sunday in August, 1910, there was a motion and second to adopt the name of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Prior to January in 1911, the organization had bought some land and a motion was made to build a meeting house, and finally five years later, on February 2nd, 1916, C.B. preached the first sermon in the new structure. The church has maintained a strong fellowship for one hundred years, despite the EF4 tornado that shook Macon County in 2008, completely destroying the building.
“It was around 3:00 a.m. on that unforgettable night back in early February two years ago,” said Chris Phillips, church clerk and long time member, “before I could even get close to the church, because of the emergency vehicles and personnel. The building was gone and debris was everywhere, but I didn’t realize the extent of the destruction until daylight, and I was absolutely devastated.”
“In the days following the tornado, the response was tremendous,” Phillips continued, “and people began arriving on the scene immediately to help with the clean-up. It took eight months to rebuild our house of worship and during this time we held services at Golden Oaks, the fairgrounds, and then MCHS for the duration. Once again, I want to extend our thanks to everyone who helped in any way during those hectic months and we certainly appreciated all the donations to our building fund. And a special thanks for all the prayers said on our behalf.”
“This church has been an inspiration to this community for 100 years,” said Phillips, “and we have had 25 different pastors, 22 total deacons and we currently have 185 members, but we serve only one God. If time allows this church building may stand for another 100 years, and although there have been different buildings, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church remains in tact, by the grace of God. May the Lord continue to bless this church and save the lost.”