History of Mt. Zion
The exact date of the founding of Mt. Zion, nicknamed "Savitz’s” because of a prominent family, but it was sometime in 1755. However, we know that settlors of the Lutheran and Reformed church came to this section earlier than 1745. The earliest tradition states that a log church existed by 1775. This log church was later replaced by a larger church building painted red. A half witted man conceived the idea that red was Satan's emblem and deliberately set fire to the building to burn the devil. Another church was soon built on the same spot and used as a Union Church for Lutherans and Reforms until 1836 when the Lutherans withdrew and built a church of their own. In 1844 the Reformed congregation built a new church on land secured from Catherine Partee for $40. On March 21, 1846, David Correll gave 85 acres of land to the elders of the congregation in trust for parsonage purposes. After the Church was demolished in 1876, a new church was started in 1879. This was a dark period in the history of the church. The parsonage property was sacrificed to complete the work and save the church. The Rev. Paul Barringer was pastor at this time.
In 1891, Mt. Zion with St. Paul's was constituted a charge by the classes of North Carolina. Prior to this time, Mt. Zion and Gilead Church were together as a charge. At the resignation of the Rev. M. M. Noacker who accepted work as a home missionary in Kansas, the Rev. John Keller was called and served as pastor until 1936. On April 7, 1918, a few ho-urs after the communion service, the church burned with a number of the church fixtures saved. A few days after the fire Mr. James N. Fleming, a deacon, volunteered to canvas for funds to rebuild, and shortly reported that he had secured pledges for $10,000. The church was rebuilt and the first service was held on Sunday, June 22, 1919. On April 20 1919, sixty-five members were dismissed to become members of a daughter congregation, First Reformed Church, Landis, N.C.
The Rev. Huitt Carpenter was called as a successor to Dr. Keller, and he served from 1936 until 1946. At this time Rev. Harold Meyers. a senior at the Theological Seminary at Lancaster, supplied during the summer and fall . On January 4, 1948, he was installed as pastor.
In 1949, a general remodeling task costing $15,000 was carried out changing the church from pulpit to altar center. In 1952 members of the church bought a 2C Consonatta organ.
On February 18, 1951, under the leadership of Rev. Myers and Mt. Zion Church, a mission church, Rodgers Park Evangelical and Reformed Church, was begun in
Kannapolis (704 East 22nd Street) with a charter membership of 21.
The Rev. G. Harold Myers resigned his pastorate and left June l, 1954, to accept the challenge of the Board of National Missions, to go to the city of Raleigh, N. C. to start a mission church.
Dr. David Faust. Professor of Religion at Catawba College, served as supply pastor for the ensuing year.
On May 1, 1955, the Rev. Eldon Spangler, having been called to Mt. Zion from Willow Street, Pennsylvania. became the pastor of the congregation and conducted the Sunday morning, service on that date.
On June 10, 1956, Rev. James R. Cress, a son of the congregation was ordained into the Christian Ministry,
In 1957, a new Education Building was compieted, and on December 22, 1957, a morning Church-School program and an evening Youth Fellowship pageant were presented in the Fellowship Hall.
Dedication services were held on January 12, 1958, with the Rev. G. Harold Meyers preaching the sermon and Dr. Harvey Fesperman, President of Southern Synod, conducting the Dedication service.
On August 31, 1959, Rev. Elden M. Spangler was called to become the pastor of St. Stephen Church. New Holland, Pennsylvania.
Rev. John J. Carey, Jr . Chaplain of Catawba College, supplied Mt. Zion in the absence of a pastor. On March 21, 1960, Rev. C. Larry Fisher, of
Lincolnton, N. C., assumed his duties as pastor and was formerly installed on May 1, 1960.
The Educational Building debt was paid in 1961, and a note-burning ceremony was held on Homecoming Sunday, September 17, 1971. Total cost of the building was $120,000. Rev. Eldon Spangler preached the Homecomfog sermon and Dr. H. A. Fesperman participated in the service. In October, 1961, a new Hammond Concert organ was secured.
Another forwar step in Christian Education was taken in November 1 1961, with the employment of a part-time director of Religious Education.
During 1962, a 1ew $10,000 heating system was installed in the Sanctuary, and a weekday Kindergarten was begun.
In 1963, the Churchmen’s Fellowship sponsored the building of a new cabin at John's River Valley Camp. The l0’ x 40’ building was constructed of materials donated by members of the congregation. It is winterized for year round use.
During the Summer of 1966, a middler from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mr. David Kelly, Jr .was employed as a Summer student assistant and youth worker.
On May 31, 1967 Rev. C. Larry Fisher left Mt. Zion Church to become the pastor at St. Thomas United Church of Christ, Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Throughout the summer of 1967 Mt. Zion again had the services of David Kelly Jr., Rev. Porter Seiwell, Campus Pastor of Catawba college served as Mt. Zion's interim Pastor In December 1967, Rev. Robert F. Godfrey was called as Pastor of Mt Zion and assumed his duties in Mid-January of 1968.
The year of 1968 brought a great step forward 1n the up-lifting of our Christian Educational Program. Under the guidance of our new Pastor. Rev. Robert
Godfrey. the congregation voted to employ on a fulltime basis a Minister of Religious Education. In July of 1968, Rev. David G, Kelly, Jr. again returned to Mt. Zion, this time in the capacity of Associate Pastor serving in the Christian Educational Field.
In 1969, the congregation voted to install an air condition system to cool the Sanctuary. An air condition fund campaign began in the Fall of the year. Plans called for the installation of! the cooling system before the Summer of 1970 Necessary repairs were made on all church buildings and the parsonage.
Pressures of the war in lndo China, a business recession in the U.S.A ••• economic inflation ... racial problems in the nation and homefront ... all
served to test the character of our Christian witness for 1970, The worshipping congregation enjoyed the benefits of an air conditioned Sanctucry. A successfull campaign for funds netted $5,750 to pay for the cost of the project.
The year of 1971 was a good year for Mt. Zion Church. A successful "Lay Witness Program" sponsored by the Evangelism Committee inspired many members to re-dedicate their lives to Christ and to work more fervently on the cause of the Kingdom. Several new members were added to the Church Roll. Stewardship
goals were reached, and plans were suggested for the future spiritual development of our church members.
In the year of our Lord 1972, the people of Mt. Zion have shown a renewed interest in the work of Kingdom and Ministry of Christ. Our main emphasis this year has bee Evangelism. An increase of giving \was recorded not only of money, but also in sharing time and talent. The improvement project was completed which included renovating the old Sunday School rooms behind the Sanctuary and tuck pointing of two walls outside the improved area. The walls were treated with silicon to help prevent water leakage. D. C. Linn Inc. contracted the job at the cost of approximately $12.000. The large upper room was furnished with suitable furniture for its intended use as a small group meeting place. More improvements of Church property and buildings have been planned for the year ahead.
In the year of 1973, Mt. Zion participated in the Key '73 Evangelism Program with other churches in our area. Pastors from churches of different denominations preached from our pulpit. Special community-wide services of worship were held to Proclaim the Word of God. Mt. Zion was host for a Hymn Sing that was well attended. Every seat was filled and people stood in the entrances. We hope 1974 will be marked by outreach by every Christian Church in our area to spread the gospel of3211121 Jesus Christ.