Mt. Zion Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 3044 Wolfe Road, Columbus, MS 39705 – Serving this Community Since 1891

This is a brief narrative history compiled from church record books and presbyterial minutes by Martha Jo Mims, September, 2000, and updated in September 2004. Readers are invited/encouraged to note any errors and share additional or clarifying information to assist with the writing of a more comprehensive history of this congregation. If you have old photos of the church, its activities, or its pastors that you might share, we would love to make copies for a pictorial history.

A stirring revival by a young and newly ordained minister led to the founding of Mt. Zion Cumberland Presbyterian Church in northern Lowndes County, Mississippi. Following a spring revival led by Rev. E.M. Younghance in a store building near Mullins Well (intersection of Wolfe and Military roads), a petition for formation of the Church was submitted to New Hope Presbytery on August 20 1891. The Church, with 13 charter members and a bench of three ruling elders, was received into the New Hope Presbytery, which met in Columbus in December of 1891. (In 1989, New Hope Presbytery was consolidated with seven other presbyteries to form the current Grand Presbytery)

Rev. Thomas Benton Wood, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister who earlier had helped organize the Woodlawn (1861) and Beersheba (1866) CP Churches and who served as Stated Clerk of the Presbytery, gave guidance for the Church organization. The Rev. Wood's home, known as "Woodlawn", was originally known as Kidd's Tavern, having been operated as a stage relay station by William Kidd from 1845-1860. The home of this significant leader in the founding of Mt. Zion is now the residence of current Mt. Zion members Tim and Janet Butler.

The 13 Charter members of Mt. Zion were Joseph A. Murray, Elder; George P. Harvey, Elder and Session Clerk; John W. Crow, Elder; Jesse M. Wells, Richard Y. Moore; Thomas Moore; Rebecca C. Harvey; Mattie L. Harvey; Mary Pearl Harvey; Sarah Elizabeth Christopher; Emma Wells; Carrie Moore and Elizabeth Moore.

Rev. Younghance served as the Church's first pastor and led the erection of the present sanctuary, originally a one-room while clapboard building, in 1922. The congregation had previously bought the old Piney Grove building and moved it to Wolfe road. A one acre plot of land was deeded for the exclusive purpose of the Church by Clyde and Bobbie Jones. It was during the effort to obtain the new building on the site that Rev. Younghance was prompted to suggest the name be changes from Mt. Zion to "Need More" because he said, "We need more money and we need more Christians".

The outside appearance of the original building has been changed only slightly with addition of two front rooms and a vestibule in 1958 and Sunday School rooms and small basement fellowship hall at the back in 1963. On the interior, very little has been altered. Pew cushions, carpeting, central heating and cooling and a sound system have been added to the comfort of worshippers but the pulpit furniture, communion table, handmade pews, and original furnishing remain intact. Three stained glass windows, each one representing the God head in the Trinity, were added to the alcove behind the pulpit in 1998. God is represented by the burning bush; Jesus Christ by the Lamb; and the Holy Spirit by the Dove. The steeple was added in 2001, and the sanctuary was refurbished in 2002. The loss of trees from the February 2001 storm prompted the beginning of replacement landscaping in 2002.

For over a century, Mt. Zion has remained a stable force in the community. It has said goodbye to members through death, moving away, and other circumstances, but has also welcomed others who have found this Church to be a place of worship and caring. Many first generation members join at least four sixth-generation worshippers in this small Church environment. The Church has never experienced a "Split" or major controversy that divided the communicants.

Women have played a significant role at Mt. Zion, just as they have in the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination. When Louisa Mariah Woosley was ordained as a CP minister in 1889, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church gained the distinction of being the first Presbyterian denomination to recognize the call of God to women for ministry in the Church. Similarly, Mt. Zion took a bold step in 1955 when it elected its first woman elder, Cora Reeves Lindamood, to share its government and leadership.

Through the years, attendance at Mt. Zion has varied. In the 1920's and 30's the Church had a thriving congregation. Later, reports indicate that the families of Mrs. Clyde Jones Sr., an early member and longtime treasurer of the Church , and her sister, Mrs. J.M. Sharp, and their families may have been the only ones present. The late 1950's saw another surge in attendance. Current attendance averages 30-40.

With its seating capacity limited to about 100, Mt. Zion has few large-attendance events. The most notable outreach is its traditional Community Christmas service held each year. The first such event,which expanded the traditional service to include the larger community, was held in 1985. On this special night once a year, the little Church is filled to capacity with worshippers from many represented denominations.

In 1998, because of the long history of its congregation, the Church established the third Sunday in September as an annual Homecoming Day to remember its history, recognize its early leaders, and welcome back those who have worshipped here, or those who are descendants of members.

More than 100 years after its birth, Mt. Zion CP Church continues to strive to meet the needs of its membership and the larger community in which it is located. Any time there is illness, death, or special needs in the community, regardless of the individual's Church affiliation, the people of Mt. Zion come forward. The same spirit of fellowship and closeness surrounding Church members in those early years still abounds today. The membership doesn't just call itself a Church, but rather a Church family.

The only paid staff member at Mt. Zion is the Pastor. The work of the Church, and for the Church, is by members themselves. Members clean the Church, provide flowers to enhance the sanctuary, and do minor repairs or secure services for larger tasks. They share their talents through playing/organ, leading singing, teaching, or whatever is needed. There is something for everyone to do, just like it was in 1891.

Sunday School is held at 1000 with worship service following at 1100. Howell G. Mims, the current Pastor, has served the Church since 1975.

Church Leadership Through the Years

Church records through the years bring attention to the many individuals who have served as leaders in the Mt. Zion Congregation:

Sessions Clerks, like G.P. Harvey (18 years), J.Q. Murray, Jesse Wells, Mrs. James Herman Egger, John M. Lyons, Cora Lindamood (35 years), Ray Gildea and Mary Ann Jones ….

Treasurers, like Bobbie Green Jones (30+years), L.E. Jones, James Wiggins, and Mary Ann Jones…..

Sunday School Superintendents, like G.W. Land, L.M. Wright, Phara Studdard, Tom Crowley, and Dwight Colson….

Musicians, like Lucy Lindamood Cowley, Barbara Land, Martha Jo Ballard, Nancy Jones, and, on occasion, Alberta Darnell,, with song leaders, like Garland Lindamood, L.L. Ballard, and Clyde Jones….

Long-serving Elders, like J.M. Wells, J.Q. Murray, G.P. Harvey, Jess Lyons, James Herman Egger, John Sharp, Clyde and Bobbie Jones, Millard Greene, Sr., G.W. Land, J.C. Jones, Jr., Jean and James Wiggins, Tom Cowley, L.L. Ballard, Ray Gildea, and others….

Sunday School Teachers, Youth Leaders, Ladies Aid Leaders, …..

Below are approximate dates of service for those who have filed the Mt. Zion pulpit. Gaps in records and lack of specific starting and departing dates render more precise dates impossible.

Ministers:

Rev. Edd M. Younghance ……………. 1891-1924
Rev. J.T. Buck ……………. 1925
Rev. J.E. McCluney ……………. 1926-1931
Rev. B.O. Wolfe ……………. 1932
Rev. L.F. Pitts……………. 1932-1933
Rev. Marion Wright, Interim……………. 1934-1935
Rev. J.A. Hall……………. 1936-1937
Rev. B.F. Guinn……………. 1937-1939
Rev. Davidson……………. 1939-1940
Rev. J.P. Bright……………. 1940-1941
Rev. Marion Wright……………. 1941-1943
Rev. E.E. Smith……………. 1944-1946
Rev. Bob Ezell……………. 1946-1949
Rev. Paul Snellgrove……………. 1949
Rev. Charles Studdard……………. 1951-1952
Damon London, Student Supply……………. 1953
Rev. S.T. Byars ……………. 1954-1957
Rev. Don Acton……………. 1958
Howell G. Mims, Student Supply……………. 1960
Rev. E.W. Johnson……………. 1961-1964
Frank Ward……………. 1964-1966
Rev. D.C. Murphree……………. 1966-1972
Rev. Howell G. Mims……………. 1975-present

[an error occurred while processing this directive]