To bring glory to God in all that we do.
(Rom. 15:6-9; Eph. 1:5-6,12; 3:21; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Thess. 1:12)
To evangelize and disciple the nations.
(Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)
To bring light to the community and beyond through evangelism, discipleship and faithful service.
MT. ZION BAPTIST CHURCH CORE VALUES
We value the scripture as God’s word and as the final authority for our faith and practice (II Tim. 2:16-17).
We value humble submission to Jesus controlling our lives each day (Luke 14:25-35; Matt. 11:28-30).
We value making every thing we do an act of worship because of Who God is and what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do (Ps. 42, John 4; Rom. 12:1-2).
We value the ongoing verbal and non-verbal communication from God and toward God anytime, anywhere, and for any reason (Col. 4:2; I Sam. ; Matt. 6:5-15).
We value telling others how they can get right with God through Jesus, and helping them become obedient followers of Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20).
We value demonstrating Christ-like love toward each other and sharing this same love with non-Christians (John 13:34-35; Mark 12: 29-31).
We value giving Jesus a life-time of exceptional effort in all that we do (Col. 3:23-24; Matt. 25:14-30)
STATEMENT OF DOCTRINE
The following is a series of brief statements depicting what Mt. Zion Baptist Church believes and adheres to regarding the Christian Faith.
- We believe the Bible is the verbally inspired word and revelation of God, inerrant, infallible and God-breathed (Psa. 19:7-11; II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:16-21).
- We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ - His virgin birth; that He is the incarnation of the Father - very God of very God, for whom and by whom all things were created
(John 1:1-14, John 8:58, John 10:30-33 and 14:9; Heb. 1:8).
- We believe in the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He by the grace of God tasted death for every man, and that all must be born again or are forever lost (Heb. 2:9; John 6:44-69; John 3:1-18).
- We believe in the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and that He ascended into the heavens, and is now at the right hand of God as our mediator, priest and advocate. (Acts 3:12-26; John 20; Heb. 9:24; I Cor. 15:1-8, 12-18).
- We believe in the universality and exceeding sinfulness of sin
(Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 3:1-26; Rom. 6:23).
- We believe in the Triune God manifest in three Persons - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of the infallible Bible. (Matt. 3:16-17; Matt. 28:19; II Cor. 13:14; John 14:16-17; I Cor. 12:4-6; I Peter 1:2; John 6:27; John 1:1; Acts 5:3-4).
- We believe in the personal, premillennial coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1) for His saints; and (2) with His saints to reign a thousand years over this earth (I Thess. 4:13-18; I Cor. 15:50-55; Rev. 19: 19-20;
- We believe that Heaven is a place for eternal blessedness and that Hell is a place of eternal suffering (II Cor. 5:1-10; Rev. 20:1-15; Rev. 21 & 22).
- We believe in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for all Christians, one baptism but many fillings (Romans 8:9, 14-27; Eph. 1:13-14; Eph. 5:18; I Cor. 12:12-13).
- We believe in the Great Evangelistic Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. 28:16-20; Acts 1:8).
- We believe that all followers of the Lord Jesus must maintain good works (Eph. 2:10, 4:1-32;
Titus 2:1-5; Titus 3:1-11).
- We believe in the personality and reality of Satan (Rev. 12:9-10; Matt. 4:2-11; Isa. 14:12-17; John 8:44).
A Historical Summary of
Mt. Zion Baptist Church , Ontario
I. The Purpose for Celebrating Church History
It is an honor to present the following historical summary of Mt. Zion’s eighty-seven year journey of faith that we may praise God and celebrate all that He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do.
History gives us an accounting of God’s track record of faithfulness. Stopping to recognize, recount, and celebrate who God is, and what God has done is a biblical principle found throughout Scripture (See, Exodus 15-1-21; II Chronicles Chapters 5 through 7; Daniel 6:18-28; Matthew 9:1-8; Matthew 15:29-31; Luke 17:11-19; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 3:1-8; I Corinthians 11:23-26, et al.). These passages of Scripture clearly present the appropriate response of God’s people when God does something on their behalf. For over six years we recited Psalms 100 each Sunday morning! Why? It is because “. . . the LORD is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.” In the year 2006, we started reciting Psalms 46 each Sunday morning! Why? It is because “God is our refuse and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear . . . The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuse.” Not we are reciting Psalm 23, because the LORD is our Shepherd...
We must always remember to stop in these hectic days and respond with great praise and celebration for who God is and what God has done. It is when we review God’s perfect track record that we gain a deeper appreciation for the vision of the future. When we, worship and praise Him with our whole heart, then we are given the assurance that God can and will do the seemingly impossible! This is how we approach “God size” assignments - we approach these assignments with our hope in the miracle working and enabling power of God! (Ephesians 3:30)
God Bless You.
Pastor Brian E. Kennedy, Sr.
II. Summary of Mt. Zion's History
Mt. Zion’s summary is presented through a chronology of the various Pastors that served throughout the years – from, fact, it's very founding.
The compilation of information and data was gathered through the many interviews with senior members of our church including but not limited to: Sis. Willa Bratton, the late Sis. Sweet P. Nash, Sis. Rever Patterson, Sis. Inez Nash, Sis. Elvenia Bratton, Sis. Freddie Fort, Sis. Tijuana Bratton, Bro. Walter Bratton, Sis. Rita Ford. Other vital resource documents that were reviewed were, but not limited to: various newspaper articles (some of which are dated as far back as 1925, 1935 and 1941), escrow documentation, a written summary by Sister Elvenia Bratton on behalf of the late Jane Hayes, a written summary by the late James B. Dunnigan, and a two page chronology compiled by Sis. Barbara Bratton and Sis. Brenda Orea.
This year, we were especially blessed on a warm August morning to sit and walk through our rich history with Mother Willa Francis Bratton, the eldest living member of Mt. Zion’s congregation. Born in York, South Carolina on April 16, 1912, Mother Bratton’s family moved to Ontario, California; she joined Mt. Zion in 1958! Her recollection of facts relating to Mt. Zion as well as the City of Ontario is phenomenal and priceless. Her faith in the Lord exceeds any words found in Webster’s or Barnhart’s Concise Dictionaries.
Mother Bratton is our “living eyewitness”, our prime-time anchor woman to the past in regard to those early years of Mt. Zion. She is, most importantly, a blessing and encouragement to all who know her, and to all who have had the opportunity to speak with her. Mother Bratton is a kind and gentle spirit, truly a child of God.
This year, Mother Bratton celebrated her 97th birthday!
Happy Birthday, Mother Bratton!
In honor of Mother Willa Francis Bratton
FAVORITE SCRIPTURE -
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)
Words of wisdom -
“ . . . If you have something you want to tell someone, tell them about the Word of God. Whatsoever God says – that is the Word. Jesus said it and He washed it in His blood. Believe – it is in the Bible! Tell them about the Bible. Read the Bible. If you don’t understand it; keep reading.
Don’t talk much but live right! Tell someone something good every day. Tell them about the Word – God’s Word. The Bible is God’s Word. If you believe the Bible, you believe in God. Read God’s Word. Believe the Word. Go by the Word. Live by the Word. Read God’s Word. Tell them [others] [about] the Word! Don’t believe me; believe in God! Tell them about God’s Word; the Gospel – tell them the Word!
Do right; don’t do wrong. If you go to a place where wrong people are, you don’t have to do the same. Do right! Treat everybody right! Do right!
Talk to the Lord; the Lord will move you. Tell the Lord about it. Read the Gospel. LIVE THE WORD!”
Pastor Arthur F. Seaton (1922 – tenure unknown)
Pastor Seaton was the founder and first Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. At that time, Mt. Zion was located in an old house on the corner of Sultana and Nevada Street; its official address was 501 East Nevada Street, Ontario, California. On April 25, 1925, Mt. Zion was incorporated within the State of California.
Mt. Zion was known as the first “colored church” in the City of Ontario and was used for various events outside of Sunday worship. The October 29, 1925 edition of the Daily Report Newspaper, reported, “It will be the only community center for Negroes in a radius of many miles west and the only one in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.” With the assistance of Sister Ida Dunnigan, Sister Lelia Parks, Sister Sweet P. Nash and Sister Lizzie Williams (the “building fund committee”), Pastor Seaton led the church in its very first building project after serving his first sixteen (16) months as Pastor. Sisters Dunnigan, Parks, Nash, and Williams were totally committed to the project and worked tirelessly to raise money for the new church – raising $712.50!
The “building fund committee” collected money throughout the community by various means: Sister Ida Dunnigan collected money in a fruit jar and others took out loans on their homes’ equity. Several families were so committed to the work of the Lord and the building of His house that they went without so that the church could go forward. These families strove to follow the instruction Paul set forth in Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” The “old house” was eventually demolished by the City of Ontario who in turn donated the land to Mt. Zion. The church then applied for a building permit, to construct a new facility. After issuance of the building permit, the church held a groundbreaking service on October 11, 1925! The cost for the new church was $3,650.00 excluding furnishings. The amount of money raised up to the point of construction was $712.50. The church celebrated the “laying of the cornerstone” on November 1925. All of these milestones were evidence of the great faith in God, which those early members possessed! There were no additional funds or bank loans available during that time just “faith” and FAITH in our Lord proved, as always, to be enough!
There were also several churches during this time that provided needed financial assistance. One of the churches, Ontario First Baptist Church on Euclid Avenue at “E” Street, hosted a benefit service in March 1925. Dr. William Carter, Field Secretary of the Southern California Baptist Colored Churches, was responsible for bringing these two churches together. In addition to Ontario First Baptist Church, other so called “White churches” also supported Mt. Zion in this building project.
Pastor Seaton stated in the October 25, 1925 edition of the Daily Report Newspaper that the relatively small group of approximately fifty (50) saints “exercised great faith”! Today, many years later, we too are very thankful for their faith as well!
Pastor E. P. Johnson (tenure unknown).
He is mentioned in the Daily Report Newspaper in March 1935. According to the Daily Report, he served when Ontario’s First Baptist Church hosted one of the fund-raisers for Mt. Zion.
Pastor J. Johnson (tenure unknown)
The mortgage burning service for the first church was held under Pastor J. Johnson in October 1941. This was recorded in the Daily Report Newspaper on Oct. 27, 1941.
Pastor Morris (1942 – tenure unknown)
The Nash and Carter families came during this time and they are still part of the church today. Sister Sweet Pecolia (Sweet P.) Nash, one of the two oldest living members of Mt. Zion, went to heaven in 2005. James Dunnigan is still living.
Pastor Randolph (mid 1940’s – tenure unknown)
Pastor Ellis (tenure unknown)
Rev. Randolph (he served a second term; tenure unknown)
Pastor Richard D. Bizzle (1956 – 1960)
He was known as a great orator, and was well educated. He exposed the church to the Sunday School Convention, and instituted church decorum. The pastor’s parsonage was also built under Pastor Bizzle.
The Baptist Women’s Missionary Society was emphasized during this time.
[Several families moved into the Ontario area: (the Bratton’s, Mann’s, and Little’s; the Bratton’s and the Mann’s are still a part of the church today)].
Pastor Robert Young (1961 – 1963)
He led the church in the purchase of new pulpit furniture, and a new Lord’s Supper Table.
Pastor Lofton Thomas (1964 – 1967)
Because of his love for children, much emphasis was placed on the Baptist Training Union (BTU).
Pastor Oscar L. Harvey (1968 – 1970)
A graduate of Biola University, he was known as a great administrator, Bible teacher and writer. Under his leadership, the by-laws and church constitution were updated.
He conducted studies in God’s Plan of the Ages (Summary of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation), and Christ in the Tabernacle.
He emphasized Vacation Bible School, and started the Christian Girls and Boys Club.
The loan on the Pastor’s Parsonage was paid off under Pastor Harvey.
Pastor William Binford (1970 – 1972)
The program for the developmentally disabled was established during this time under Sis. Thelma Smith.
Pastor Chester Carter (1972 – 1973)
He started the young matrons' ministry (this was a ministry to help young adult ladies to grow in the faith and do the work of ministry such as visiting senior citizen homes, etc.).
Pastor Alvin J. Carter (1973 – 1986)
Pastor Carter has had the longest pastoral tenure in the life of Mt. Zion to date. Under his spiritual leadership and prayer, Mt. Zion grew in the areas of evangelism, basic youth training, witnessing and door-to-door ministries to name a few. His continued emphasis in these areas throughout the years was a major part of his spiritual focus and plan.
Pastor Carter received an educational scholarship from Central Baptist Church of Pomona to attend seminary in West Covina. He was known to “reach out” to other Baptist fellowships, crossing long-established color barriers, and made evangelism his first priority in the church. He instituted door-to-door evangelism and established classes to foster the growth of the members in this area. Programs such as the “Follow Through Evangelism Movement” and “Child Evangelism” were focal points in his ministry relating to community and global outreach. To further enhance the church’s focus in regard to evangelism, Pastor Carter established a scholarship fund to sponsor foreign missionaries, to provide the opportunity for Fred Morgan and Samuel Dawkins to attend seminary to name a few.
Mt. Zion’s membership, physical and spiritual growth was remarkable during this period. Pastor Carter established a building fund for the purchase of the church property located at 224 West California Street on July 10, 1978! During this time, members recall the “old” church being open for “round-the-clock” prayer in anticipation of the closing of escrow of the new church location – opening early in the morning and closing late in the evenings to accommodate the schedules of as many as possible. God heard and answered the prayers of the faithful! On March 30, 1980 approximately 50-60 members led by Pastor Carter, followed by the Deacons and Trustees, Ushers and the Choir, church members, children, family and friends marched down Nevada Street to Fern Avenue then down to California Street (approximately four blocks) rejoicing and singing “We’ve Come This Far By Faith” (as well as other songs) in celebration of the close of escrow and the purchase of our new church home. During this time there were less than one hundred (100) tithing members on the “rolls” at Mt. Zion!
“Feeding the Whole Man” was Pastor Carter’s motto. He exposed Mt. Zion’s congregation to many growth and educational ministries during these years; ministries such as the Institute in Basic Life Principles, The National Evangelism Movement, The Biola Stewardship Workshop (with Dr. George Moore), as well as various Financial Seminars with Dr. Napoleon Rhodes.
Other significant areas of development and growth during this period were:
· The establishment of a full-time day care center and the Mt. Zion Christian School (for grades Kindergarten through the 12) opened on March 4, 2002.
· A church for the developmentally disabled was established under the prayerful direction of Sister Thelma Smith (“Big Momma”) which was eventually moved to the Mt. Zion Annex. The Mt. Zion Annex, located across the street from our California location, was demolished in 1999.
· A community outreach program to assist with emergency shelter, delinquent mortgage payments, utility bills, food, and clothing.
· The church distributed Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for seniors, homeless individuals and those with low incomes.
· The first large scale evangelical play, “As It Is Appointed Unto Men Once to Die, and After This, The Judgment” was performed. Over one hundred (100) people gave their hearts to Christ during that performance!
· Seminars with Dr. Napoleon Rhodes were held.
· The yearly participation of the youth and others at the Long Beach Convention Center to attend the Bill Gothard Institute in Basic Youth Conflict Seminar.
· What a major historical and spiritual leap of faith, Mt. Zion! We remain forever grateful and thankful to God.
Interim Pastor Richard Bizzle (1986)
He came back to help keep the church together until a new pastor was selected.
Pastor James Berry (1986 – 1988)
He put emphasis on evangelism and led the church in door-to-door evangelism. He also instituted Wednesday night family night. The church grew to over 350 members strong at that time.
Interim Pastor Edgar Murrell (1988 – 1989)
He put emphasis on Sunday School and systematic Bible Study. He conducted the young men and boy’s discipleship program at his home.
Today, several of the young men and boys that he disciple are deacons, ministers, and other church leaders. He also started the Murrell Fellowship Luncheon with Brother David Tait. Men from Mt. Zion are still fellowshipping in this luncheon every other Friday at 11:30 a.m.
Pastor George Moore (1989 – 1998)
Pastor George Moore, a retired Systematic Theology Professor at Biola University and founder of “Fisherman’s Gospel Ministry” (a foreign and domestic missions ministry) became Mt. Zion’s Senior Pastor in 1989. Dr. Moore was a strong Bible teaching pastor. Under his leadership, the Wednesday night Bible study grew to a point that it became one of the main highlights of our church. He also led Mt. Zion in street witnessing and overseas missions. Dr. Moore, as well, started in-home “cell groups” and re-established the Women’s Ministry and Nursing Home Ministry.
It was during Dr. Moore’s tenure that funds were awarded to Mt. Zion by Ontario Airport from noise abatement funding. Funds from this award were used (i) for a new roof on the sanctuary and education buildings, (ii) to replace doors and install double-paned windows in the sanctuary, (iii) to purchase carpet for the education building and (iv) to purchase and install new air conditioners for both buildings.
Under Dr. Moore’s leadership, God allowed a major controversy to occur with the church and resulted in an unfortunate litigation in court. This was an extremely difficult time in Mt. Zion’s history. Satan saw an opportunity to get Christians to attack one another in the areas of authority in the local church and finances. Satan thought that he could destroy God’s church but God proved beyond a shadow of a doubt His love for Mt. Zion, blessed our church, and brought us through with His grace and divine favor. God gave Dr. Moore strength as he lead Mt. Zion through a painful “cleansing process” that would not be forgotten. We truly serve a mighty God!
Dr. Moore made many contributions to Mt. Zion during his time as Pastor, but his most significant contribution was His commitment to helping Mt. Zion develop an unwavering biblical orientation. It was not long discovered by Dr. Moore’s successor how the members of Mt. Zion learned an invaluable lesson during his leadership – that the Bible must be recognized and followed as the final authority for the Christian’s faith and practice. Notwithstanding the strong feelings on both sides of the subject of concern, Mt. Zion members learned to yield to what God says in His Word.
Dr. Moore retired in 1998 to serve as a full-time missionary for Fisherman’s Gospel Ministry.
Interim Church Leaders Richard Young and Joseph McDowell (1998)
These men helped to lead Mt. Zion during a critical time. They needed God to empower them to provide both administrative and spiritual services, and lead the pastoral search team while both of them were working full-time jobs.
Under these two brothers, the sound proofing project continued, the piano was purchased, and a new pastor was selected to serve.
Pastor Brian E. Kennedy (1998 - Present)
Pastor Kennedy - a graduate of Talbot School of Theology, a former Los Angeles Area Director for Prison Fellowship, USA, and Youth Pastor at Evening Star Missionary Baptist Church, in Los Angeles – was selected to serve as Senior Pastor in November 1998.
Pastor Kennedy came at a time when Mt. Zion wanted to move forward with a sense of clear biblical direction. The church was determined to avoid the same mistakes from the past. The congregation, totaling approximately forty (40) members agreed to restructure the ministry through a time of “vision development” with Pastor Kennedy. In 1999 during the 11:00 a.m. worship service, those members of Mt. Zion who still had ill feelings and who had not reconciled came forward during altar prayer and peace was made between one another.
In the same year, former pastor, Dr. George Moore, was invited to return to Mt. Zion to preach. After delivering his sermon, Dr. Moore apologized to those members who were hurt by any of his actions during his tenure; members who attended that needed to apologize for hurting Dr. Moore came forward during altar prayer. There was biblical reconciliation between all parties. There was not a dry eye in the church! On that Sunday, God removed the dark cloud from over Mt. Zion and freed her to serve Him with a pure heart.
THE YEARS 1999 AND 2000
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 239:11 (NIV)
Beginning in January of 1999, the soundproofing project continued and soon expanded into a full renovation project of both the exterior and interior areas of the sanctuary and education buildings.
During 1999, an audit was conducted by Pastor Kennedy. The audit report was distributed to and discussed with the congregation to provide full disclosure and accounting of the proper disbursement of all noise abatement funds awarded. This accounting reflected funds were wisely invested and earned interest making it possible for Mt. Zion to have financial resources for things needed for the church that fell outside of the soundproofing restraints.
In years, 1999 and 2000, two new properties located directly across the street from the church were purchased for the expansion of the Helping Hands and the boxing program. The corner lot (located at California and Palm) was also purchased for future ministry and parking needs.
A three-year strategic planning process was implemented during this time, which tied ministry events and programs to the church budget. Mt. Zion made a commitment that ministry would drive the church budget. Annual and semi-annual Holy Spirit Guidance Meetings with ministry reports and financial statements were also instituted during this time. These meetings were designed to demonstrate financial, programmatic, and administrative accountability before the church congregation. Praise and worship are also incorporated in these meetings to recognize the power of God.
THE YEARS 2001 and 2002
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.”
The year 2001 was one of stabilization for Mt. Zion. With the rapid growth of the church and limited space, serious thought was given to future expansion. With ten (10) staff members and a little over 780 members, God was leading Mt. Zion to seek out land to build for the future. In June of 2001, the stewardship campaign was initiated and a feasibility study was conducted to assess the proper direction for future expansion of our church.
The first phase was to continue purchasing property around the church to build a three-story multi-purpose building, senior housing, a 500 car parking structure, and eventually a larger sanctuary. A planning committee, which consisted of Pastor Kennedy, the church Trustees and other church leaders, was established to consider, research and analyze numerous factors relative to the initial planning phase which considered and included, but not limited to, property acquisitions, street closures, displacing residents, relocation of residents, owners that would hold out and refuse to sell, demolition, hazardous material removal, property set-backs and the relocation of existing infrastructure.
The preliminary reporting to the church of the committee’s findings and analysis was conducted in an official church meeting held on November 25, 2001. It was noted that two primary factors made the above option unsuitable:
(1) The $19.00 to $21.00 per square foot cost to acquire the land around the existing church and prepare the land for building by reducing it to raw dirt status. Research revealed at that time that there were a few land parcels, which were selling for $15.00 per square foot. However, the norm reflected that property in Ontario – specifically around the Ontario Mills area - was selling from $8.00 to $10.00 per square foot; and
(2) Ontario City Officials felt that our proposed plan was too intensive for the existing neighborhood around the church.
After hearing the results of the feasibility study, Mt. Zion’s congregation overwhelmingly voted for the Pastor and Trustees to seek out raw land for the future expansion of the church if the property was located in the City of Ontario. Several properties were considered (i) 9.5 acres located on Campus and Cedar, (ii) 40 acres on Vineyard and Riverside, and (iii) 40 acres located on Vineyard and Chino Avenue. God in His providential sovereignty saw fit to close the door on the three aforementioned properties.
During the years 2001 and 2002 several programs were either reactivated or initiated to fulfill Mt. Zion’s mission statement – “to evangelize and disciple the nations”. Two of the most exciting programs started were the (i) F.A.I.T.H. Sunday School based evangelism strategy and in March of 2002 the (ii) Mt. Zion Christian School (for pre-school and kindergarten).
In October of 2002, the Trustees opened escrow for a feasibility study on eighteen (18) acres of land located on the southeast corner of Chino and Grove Avenues.
During 2002, the Helping Hands ministry served 24,402 individuals representing all ethnic groups and walks of life. This was a substantial increase in service – serving 20,535 in the year 2001!
THE YEAR 2003
Our foundation as believers is rooted in Scripture which was “God-breathed” and then dutifully recorded by inspired writers of the Word. Its message is unmistakable – that in all circumstances we should prayerfully seek a Word from the Lord. (Psalms 119:105)
On January 19, 2003 during an official church meeting, the congregation of Mt. Zion overwhelmingly voted to purchase the eighteen (18) acres located on Chino and Grove Avenues!
On January 23, 2003, Mt. Zion closed escrow on the Grove and Chino Avenue property purchasing the land for $2,400,000.00! This was a decisive commitment by the church to pursue the vision to reach more people for Christ.
On February 16, 2003, Mt. Zion’s congregation traveled to the property site and held a “property blessing service” – praying over and committing the land to the Lord’s use. While the Male Chorus led the congregation, the cows responded by gathering together getting as close as they could to the “human” congregation and joined us in praising God for providing the church with a strategic piece of property for future kingdom building.
On February 23, 2003 Mt. Zion burned the mortgage on several 224 West California Street properties which included (1) the sanctuary, (2) education building, (3) the youth building and the land directly behind the youth building, (4) the Helping Hands building, and the (5) boxing gym across the street. Mayor Gary Ovitt, Rever Butts-Patterson, Mother Willa Bratton, and Mt. Zion’s Senior Pastor participated in the actual burning of the mortgages. Several long-term members of the church and representatives of deceased members came to the stage to participate in this ceremony. Pastor Alvin J. Carter was also recognized for his vision in leading Mt. Zion to the California Street location. (“ . . . Eyes have not seen and ears have not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man all that is prepared for those who love the Lord.”
I Corinthians 2:9)
The summer of 2003 left an indelible spiritual imprint on our children and youth. It began on June 23 with the annual Summer Children and Youth Academy – a four (4) week program for children between the ages of 6 and 18 that was open between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. daily. The Children and Teen Summit in Sacramento, California for three days followed soon thereafter. There was Vacation Bible School which was held for one week; the Summer Youth Camp which was also held for one week; ending with a “Back to School Explosion Concert on the 31st of August! “Totally Awesome!”
The Wednesday night Children and Youth programs, The Children’s Church, The Children’s Choir, The Youth and Young Adult Choir, The Youth Usher Board and our Sunday School continue to provide a strong foundation for our children and youth.
On July 20, 2003, the Health and Fitness Awareness Program (“HFAP”) had their official “kick-off.” Funded by the California Endowment Foundation and administered by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches (“LAM) and Churches Organized for Prophetic Engagement (C.O.P.E.), Mt. Zion took its’ existing family fitness ministry to a new and exciting level for all age groups. Room 7 was renovated and equipped with several exercise machines and weights while Rooms 5 and 6 were used for open floor exercise classes. Fitness advocates also lead members of the congregation in scheduled walks in the community. The Senior (citizen) members of our church are benefiting from healthy cooking and shopping training while our children and youth are learning healthy eating principles.
Mt. Zion’s Music Department grew to six choirs (Children’s, Youth and Young Adult, Voices of Zion, Male Chorus, Sanctuary, and the Mass Choir); they faithfully lead the church in worship Sunday after Sunday throughout the years.
The Senior Usher Board grew to seventeen (17) members strong and the Junior Usher Board grew to eight (8) members strong by the middle of 2003 providing critical services to the growing congregation during worship services and special events.
Two active missionaries in our church served in Ghana, West Africa, Southern Sudan, and Kenya. Our short-term missionary leader took eleven (11) Mt. Zion members to Mexico to build shelters for needy families.
In an effort to be better stewards over the new members that God brought to Mt. Zion, the Nurturing Ministry was reactivated. By mid-year there were 40 “nurturers” ministering to new members.
The unity and hard work of our Deacons, Deaconess, Trustees, Men and Women’s ministry along with other leaders in the church and individuals wanting to make a difference proved to be invaluable in helping Mt. Zion stabilize during its rapid growth and other challenges that accompany such growth.
With twelve (12) staff members and a little over 1,000 members, God’s faithfulness in pastoring Mt. Zion brought our church to 81 years of service in 2003!
The end of 2003 was celebrated with a concert hosted by our Music Department during a Spirit-filled New Years Eve service.
THE YEAR 2004
Everything in Scripture seems to reverberate to that vital little word – FAITH.
(II Corinthians 5:7)
It is with that unwavering faith in God that Mt. Zion at 12:00 a.m. on January 1, 2004 welcomed in the New Year in prayer. The following are just a “few” of the many blessings from the Lord bestowed upon Mt. Zion during that year:
The New Year of 2004 began with two outstanding conferences – The Women’s Conference, which was held in January 2004 and the Men’s Conference, which was held in March 2004.
On March 31, 2004, Mt. Zion hosted the Caesar Chavez Day! Pastor Alphanso Montiel, Senior Pastor of Templo Bautista (Mt. Zion sponsored this church which was located across the street) was the lead Pastor for the event.
In May of 2004, Mt. Zion hosted the Annual Area-Wide Revival sponsored through the Pomona Valley Ministers Alliance.
The relationship between Mt. Zion and the Ontario Police Department was strengthened as Pastor Kennedy was invited to participate in “racial profiling training.”
The Health and Fitness Ministry assumed the supervision of the boxing program after the Police Athletic League’s contract was not renewed by the State of California, and developed an outstanding team of boxing coaches to continue our outreach into our community. In addition, Mt. Zion’s congregation developed an increased health and fitness mindset due to the tireless efforts of this ministry.
Mt. Zion was blessed with a twenty-four (24) seat shuttle bus to enhance outreach and discipleship efforts. So what was the inaugural launch of the shuttle bus? A trip to “The Price Is Right” game show for the Senior Citizen Ministry! When Brother Odom won, Mt. Zion’s Seniors Ministry was shown on national television wearing their “Mt. Zion t-shirts” and displaying the love of Jesus Christ!
An upgraded security system was installed in the Education Building for increased efficiency of staff and for the increased safety of the children in the Mt. Zion Christian School.
Mt. Zion Sunday School staff attended the annual Equipped for Excellence Conference and subsequently started a major reorganization. One major change was the implementation of the thirty-eight week discipleship training class during the Sunday School hour.
A team consisting of men and “one woman” launched a beautification effort by painting the properties on the south side of California Avenue and upgrading the landscaping around the church.
Our Church marquee was upgraded to reflect the God we serve, and to provide basic information regarding the church clearly during the day and brightly during the night.
A commercial exhaust fan and energy efficient air conditioner was installed in Mt. Zion’s downstairs kitchen. The response of the Hospitality Committee was loud and clear and continues to be lifted up during the warm summer days - “Praise the Lord!”
The end of the 2004 school year was a highlight for Mt. Zion with the annual graduation ceremony. One hundred percent of our high school graduates were college bound that year! Praise the Lord! Our children and youth then quickly immersed themselves into four weeks of action-packed summer activities beginning with the Summer Youth Academy followed by Summer Camp, Vacation Bible School and the culinary delight of the summer – the Annual church picnic! The summer programs concluded with the Back to School Explosion Concert.
Two additional staff positions were funded by Mt. Zion – A Director of the Children’s Ministry and a Director of Evangelism.
Mt. Zion’s administrative staff began attending quarterly off-site training trips in 2004. The three “training trips” taken through September were: (1) “Customer Service” training at Crenshaw Christian Center; (2) “Innovative Thinking” training at Saddleback Church; and (3) “How to Reach Your Potential” at First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena.
Mt. Zion’s church-wide leadership training program was upgraded to conducting three quarterly mini-retreats hosted by various members. In September 2004, a “first class” all day leadership retreat was conducted at Mt. Zion.
The “Land Payoff Project” was implemented in the year of 2004. This project consists of 550 members paying at least $10.00 per week over and above tithes and offering to pay the balance of $2,000,000.00 owed on the eighteen (18) acres on Chino Avenue and Grove in a five and one-half year period. By paying the balance off within this period, we would (i) save of $570,000.00 in interest and (ii) provide $130,000.00 in savings. As of September 2004, our members were half-way to our goal of obtaining the 550 committed participants.
At the end of August 2004, Mt. Zion was blessed to present Rene Farquharson, our missionary in Sudan, Africa with $5,000.00 for the ministry. This blessing was in addition to the monthly church support. Several churches in Sudan and Kenya came under the Mt. Zion Missions Ministry. The church missions giving for the first eight months in 2004 totaled $35,060.00 – a 38% increase over the first eight months in 2003. This figure represents 6.4% of the tithes and offerings in the first eight months as well.
The 82nd Church Anniversary was celebrated in what was called a “Power Packed Weekend!” The weekend featured an all church skate night on Friday, a spirit-filled musical concert on Saturday evening, concluding on that celebration-filled Sunday with a Word from the Lord presented by Pastor Fred Campbell (of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Redwood City and President of the California State Baptist Convention). Hallelujah! Glory to God!
THE YEAR 2005
The scripture characterizes God as infinitely loving and kind, gently watching over His earthly children and guiding the steps of the faithful. (Psalms 23)
We started the year 2005 on our knees at the Mt. Zion’s Annual New Year’s Eve Service. God used the ministers of Mt. Zion to challenge and encourage us as we entered into the New Year. The following are a “few” of the events, upgrades, and milestones that occurred during that year:
Mt. Zion’s second annual Easter Sunrise Service was held on March 27, 2005 with the Pomona Valley Ministers Alliance on Euclid Avenue, at the Jack Mercer Band Stand. On that early Sunday morning, one man gave his heart to Jesus.
Our Missions Department stepped out on faith and started a monthly feeding ministry in Tijuana, Mexico. In July of 2005 over 600 people were fed.
In August of 2005, our Missionary in Africa presented the missions annual report; Mt. Zion was able to give $10,000.00 to support several special projects in addition to our regular monthly contribution as she went back to the field.
Infused with God’s love and our commitment to serving, existing ministries continued to grow and several new ministries were started in 2005. Three examples of the new ministries that started are the two major productions by our Children’s Department (held at Easter and Christmas), The Young Adult Bridge Ministry; and The Widows Network and Encourage Widows Ministry.
In our Deacons ministry, five new Deacons were ordained and one Deacon transferred from another church. There were a total of twenty-six (26) ordained Deacons and eight (8) Deacons in training at Mt. Zion during this time.
In our Deaconess ministry, three (3) Deaconesses were ordained and three (3) Deaconesses transferred to Mt. Zion from other churches. There were thirty-one (31) Deaconesses in service at Mt. Zion during this time.
Also in 2005, the loan on the eighteen (18) acres on Grove and Chino Avenue was refinanced with One United Bank in Los Angeles. The primary benefit of this transaction was to position the church to start collecting rent from the dairy farming operation on the property – this could only be done by paying off the owners that carried the original note. In addition, a development company was secured to begin the process for master planning the eighteen acres according to the written descriptions provided by Mt. Zion Church leadership.
The last piece of property (the Young Adult Building) located on California Street was paid off in 2005. As of October 2005, all property on California Street owned by Mt. Zion was paid-in-full and unencumbered.
Several key upgrades that were scheduled were completed on a timely basis. These improvements were: upgrading the wiring in the sanctuary and Mt. Zion Café; the rewiring of the Young Adult building; the installation of an air and heating system in the Helping Hands building; the acquisition of equipment for the Audio-Visual Department to eliminate feedback and to upgrade the quality of public sound and recordings. The upgrade in the Education Building featured beautiful textured walls in the Pre-School classrooms, an upgrade in Room 2 of the Education Building that included four (4) independent partitioned workstations and one (1) office manager workstation, and the upgrade of the storage rooms with shelving to maximize space. The Mt. Zion Café also benefited from the additional 2005 upgrades to promote a “warmer, friendlier” feel. Lastly, one handball court and two-tether ball courts were installed on the parking lot.
In May of 2005, Mt. Zion hosted California Edison and the community for an energy conservation-training workshop.
The summer of 2005 was a blast for our youth and children’s ministries! A carnival on the church parking lot kicked-off and introduced the Summer Day Camp, the Summer Away Camp, and the Higher Challenge Program for teenagers, Vacation Bible School, Church picnic, the Teen and Family Super Forum, the Teen Summit in Sacramento and the Back to School Concert programs to all! All of the events held during that summer were packed with lots of fun and provided unlimited opportunities for all to grow in the Lord!
The 2005 Vacation Bible School broke all attendance records on the first day – totaling 183 in attendance). The annual church picnic in the park was attended by over 400 people with plenty of fun and food for all!
In October of 2005, Mt. Zion held its second Town Hall Meeting. By doing so, a continued and stronger relationship was built with the Ontario Police Department.
Administratively Mt. Zion continued to grow in the year 2005. Three new staff positions were added – a Director of Couples Ministry (this staff member also helped to establish the Singles Ministry), an Office Manager for Ministry Services, and a full-time Maintenance Manager. In addition, a retirement, pension, and disability plan was provided for all Mt. Zion Church and School qualified W-2 employees.
The Mt. Zion Christian School experienced student enrollment growth as well hiring a full-time Director and adding a “toddler class” in the Fall of 2005. Our School began the fall semester with an all time high enrollment of seventeen (17) students!
As the year 2005 turned towards its last quarter the sweet smell of “celebration” filled the air – it was time to celebrate our 83rd church anniversary! The Annual Church Anniversary Concert was held on Saturday, September 17 and proved to be a clear demonstration of what happens when God’s people allow the Holy Spirit to take control in the worship experience.
The 83rd church anniversary celebration on Sunday, September 18, 2005 was just what Mt. Zion needed! The anniversary theme focused on the need for the people of God to be faithful and finish well at the end of their journey here on earth and the message was delivered by Pastor Terrance Phillips of Prosperity Baptist Church of Los Angeles. Memories of the 83rd anniversary of Mt. Zion will be cherished in the hearts of all those who attended for a very long time.
Mt. Zion approached the end of 2005 spiritually healthy and postured to reach out, build-up and strengthen herself through the following – the Men’s Basketball League (a partnership with several Inland Empire local churches; the Women’s Retreat Rally; a three day retreat in Palm Springs; the Men’s Retreat; the Parent/Teen forum with Dr. Herb Fischer (superintendant of the San Bernardino County Schools); the All Saints Day Eve Celebration; the Ushers Annual Day (we now have grown to 31 ushers); the Thanksgiving Service; the Angel Tree Party; the Annual Christmas Program by the Children’s Department; and the Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration!
THE YEAR 2006
“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You . . .” (Psalms 63:1)
We began 2006 once again on our knees in our annual New Year’s Eve Service. Our desire for that year was to move forward on our knees until our Lord returns. (Note to all future generations of Mt. Zion: “Please ensure that Mt. Zion moves forward on her knees!”)
Mt. Zion continued to build upon the “outreach” ministry goals set at the end of the year 2005. The All Saints Eve Parking Lot outreach attracted over 500 people with a deliberate strategy to do one-on-one evangelism and ensuring that every participant received the gospel message in a track.
In 2006, the Mt. Zion Christian School started out with a record high enrollment of 32 students! God continued to bless the school with staff members committed to recruiting students, obtaining equipment and other resources to make Mt. Zion Christian School a Five Star School. God provided a nurse to provide hearing and eye examinations for those children attending our school.
The Women’s Retreat was a life-changing experience as Sister Colette Graves challenged the women to work through the various seasons in their lives. The Men’s Retreat likewise was life changing as Pastor Kidd and Pastor Hargrove challenged Christian men to give hope to the world.
The 2006 Thanksgiving service included a “Sharing and Caring” Thanksgiving Day Luncheon. The homeless community was served a mouth watering sit-down turkey dinner with all of the trimmings! We even had a delivery team take dinners to the homeless in the parks and other locations in our community. Over 200 dinners were served!
The Angel Tree Party included twenty (20) children that survived Katrina. All of the children, including the 126 children of prisoners, and their families received the gospel, great food, toys, and the love of Jesus Christ.
The Easter Pageant and Children’s Christmas Pageant were, once again, second to none as our children vividly dramatized the message of God’s love in sending Jesus to die for the sins of the world and rising again on the third day! God used our children to reach hundreds of people including a mother who led her son to the Lord.
The Third Annual Sunrise Service was held on Euclid Avenue at the Jack Mercer Bandstand. Pastor Dwight Peace, from South Hills Presbyterian Church brought the message.
Mt. Zion, as of September 16, 2006, baptized twenty-one (21) saints and witnessed to over 2,000 people one-on-one through the Evangelism ministry programs. Forty (40) decisions were made for Christ!
Over fifty (50) members were served and/or visited in hospitals or sick rooms by our Deacon and Deaconess ministries. Those who were a part of these ministries represented Christ with great honor as they diligently assisted in carrying out the work of the ministry alongside the Pastor and Elder’s of our church.
God continued to honor the prayers of our Prayer Ministry as He protected the unity and love among the Mt. Zion Leadership Team. Moreover, God empowered the Leadership Team to help lovingly care for the congregation entrusted to our care. The installation of officer’s ceremony in March of 2006 was a tribute to the faithfulness of God. The Leadership Team of Mt. Zion consists of the Elders, Senior Pastor, Ministers, Deacons and Deaconess, Trustees, Department heads and Ministry Leaders.
In 2006 the Holy Spirit led Leadership Team championed the task of updating the Mt. Zion’s Church Constitution and By-Laws. This had not been done for thirty (30) years and the purpose for the update was to ensure that the By-Laws and the Constitution properly reflected the current operations of the church. As of September, 2006, the Leadership Team had only one more meeting to conduct before beginning the “all church” information meetings to explain the updates.
Praise God for raising up two (2) additional ministers – Thomas Kemp and Michael Calloway - they accepted their calling and were presented a minister’s license in 2006. Several other men and one teenager started and/or continue in the ministers’ training class.
Also during the year 2006, the Mt. Zion Economic Development Corporation began to take greater shape with an infusion of new board members and advisory team members under the leadership of Deacon James Young and continued leadership of Sister Toni Johns.
The Christian Education Department led Mt. Zion in the critical area of spiritual stability in 2006. The Sunday School grew to 699 members! Mt. Zion’s Sunday School also received the High Attendance Award at the Equipped for Excellence Sunday School Worker’s Training workshop held that year.
Members that attended the Discipleship Training through the Sunday School were taken to the eighteen (18) acres owned by the church during this year. Marriages were strengthened through the Couples’ Class and members of all ages were and continue to experience the excitement and effectiveness of small group ministry through the Sunday School as well as through the Small Group Ministry that meet weekly.
Many, many other milestones were reached during the year of 2006; a few of them are as follows:
A Director of Counseling joined the staff to help counter the attacks of the enemy against marriages and to help members that need counseling to get the help they need as well as to move forward in Christ.
Wednesday Night Bible Study expanded to offer a variety of classes to the congregation through four sessions each year! In the fall session of 2006 four (4) classes were offered – “Getting Close to God through Prayer”, “Getting a More Practical Handle on Witnessing”, “Reasoning Through Romans” (young adults 18-25), and “Properly Handling God’s Money”. In addition, the Los Angeles Bible Training School started classes during the week at Mt. Zion in order to reach more students in the Inland Empire area.
The Young Adult Ministry stepped up and led the church in an exciting and fun-filled Church picnic (evangelism and discipleship was intentionally built-in to the event).
The Parking Lot Ministry continued to greet the congregation outside while members of Mt. Zion’s Greeters Ministry met us at the door as the Ushers’ Ministry graciously served us inside the sanctuary. We are placed in the capable hands of those in the Nurses Ministry and the Security Ministry. The Nurturing Ministry, the Deacons and Deaconess and the Evangelism Ministry continued to worked diligently to help encourage the congregation (of over 1,200 at that time) to stay together so that we might continue to faithfully grow and serve the Lord together. We are truly one loved and well cared for congregation!
Mt. Zion Church Staff who faithfully serve the congregation each and every week during the year continued to grow and learn better ways to help be of service to all who worship at our church by attending two (2) staff training and development seminars at the Crystal Cathedral and Harvest Church in Riverside.
Thirty-four (34) youth and children graduates were honored during our 2006 graduation program. Mt. Zion’s first student to finish medical school – Dr. Mandesha Matthews – was our guest speaker. It was an exciting year for Mt. Zion as we had the privilege to pray for youth transitioning to young adult life in college and in the work force.
Through the Children’s Day Camp – which was filled with Bible training, field trips, food and fun – ten (10) children gave their hearts to Jesus; one child gave their heart to Christ while attending the “away camp.” Both teens and children went to Guasti Park, Scandia, Castle Park, and Knott’s Berry Farm for a fun filled summer! It was, to say the very least, an extremely productive summer for our children and youth.
God used the Youth and Children’s section of our 2006 Vacation Bible to draw one (1) child and two (2) youth to Christ; nine (9) youth rededicated their lives to Christ!
Our children and youth ended their summer during 2006 with the Back to School Explosion Concert (a spirit-filled concert sponsored by the Young Adult Ministry to encourage our children and youth to press forward academically). Over forty (40) backpacks, several gift certificates were given away in addition to cash! What a way to start the new school year!
The Summer Youth Extreme program gave our teenagers an opportunity to experience Quest Software, L.A. Police Headquarters, Ontario Fire Department, Ontario City Hall, Kaiser Permanente Hospital, L.A. Metropolitan Courthouse, One United Bank, the U.S. Postal Service, Fat Burgers (hmmm), Southern California Edison Company, the Los Angeles Mission and the Ann Douglas Center, as well as a trip to Mexico to help feed hungry! What a summer!
The Campus Ministry headed up by our Youth Director is still strong and continued to visit De Anza Middle School, Oaks Middle School, and Ontario High School. A new student-led ministry was established at Diamond Bar High School and three student-led ministries were being developed at Chaffey High School, Upland High School, and Montclair High School.
In addition, in 2006, Mt. Zion entered into a partnership with the San Bernardino County Schools, under the direction of Dr. Herb Fisher, to operate an after-school literacy program. This program includes the AVID program curriculum and other supports to assist students maximize their educational experience.
The Evangelism Team, the Nursing Home Ministry, Angel Tree Ministry, and the Helping Hands Ministry continued in 2006 to lead the church in going beyond the walls internationally. Africa, St. Vincent, West Indies, and Mexico were the three main international outreach efforts during this year.
God blessed our Transportation Ministry with a long awaiting mini-van to fill the gap in “moving people for Christ.” Thank you, Lord.
Mt. Zion developed another strategic partnership with law enforcement and the community in 2006. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department conducted an all-county job fair at Mt. Zion with an emphasis on jobs within the Sheriff’s Department. We continued to maintain and foster existing law enforcement relations with the Ontario Police Department by hosting the annual Town Hall meeting (with the Chief of Police and key specialists from the Ontario Police Department serving on the panel).
Once again, Mt. Zion was honored to host for the second time the annual Pomona Valley Ministers Alliance Revival. Dr. Howard John Wesley was the speaker at this 2006 event.
In an effort to improve our service, Mt. Zion underwent an internal reorganization; dividing the church into three major divisions – Ministry Services, Stewardship, and Church Administration. We hired our first Church Administrator, James Young, to oversee the stewardship and administrative divisions. To better utilize our technology and thereby reaching more people, the church hired Rev. Brian Wallace as Director of Marketing. Mt. Zion’s website was upgraded (www.MtZionOntario.com), and our Sunday morning projection ministry was started as well. Last, but not least, to enhance administrative efficiencies our Director of Information Technology expanded our existing computer network, increased church data security, and established a proper network maintenance program.
The Trustees and the Maintenance Department continued to exercise good stewardship over the God given resources of our church. A new air conditioning unit was installed for the education building; Room Two in the education building was converted to a five work station office for Ministry Services, the young adult building was given a new roof and plans were moving forward for a complete renovation; the parking lots on the south-side of California Street were paved (Hallelujah!); a fourth classroom was renovated for the pre-school to raise capacity from 36 to 48 students; the pre-school office was renovated and the old library room was renovated to house both the Trustees and the Accounting Departments.
During the year of 2006, God through His sovereign providence moved and took two of His loyal servants from our Deacons’ ministry to rest with Him in Heaven. We will deeply miss Deacon Charles Haynes and Deacon Willie Hughes (Texas).
Mt. Zion never ceased to pray for God to protect and preserve the love and unity in His church. With now over 1,200 members and twenty (20) church staff plus five (5) school staff Mt. Zion continued to experience God and we are convinced that the story of Mt. Zion’s history will consist of the great and mighty things that we never even thought about!
We thank God for the numerous Mt. Zion members and friends who contributed to the development of our 84th year history! Thank you, Lord!
THE YEAR 2007
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
The year 2007 was ushered in following a beautiful evening church concert and good fellowship at our Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration. Twelve o’clock a.m. found all in attendance – from the sleepy-eyed children being held in the arms of their parents or other loved-ones to the most seasoned senior citizens – on their knees, prayerful and thankful for the blessings and events that God had brought them through and for all that, He had yet to do in this new year. The delicious fellowship early morning breakfast was welcomed by all.
During 2007, Mt. Zion members continued to grow strong in their worship of the Lord.
Some of the significant milestones were:
James Young began to serve as the full-time Church Administrator.
Our church Constitution and Bylaws were reviewed and updated to reflect necessary changes by a unanimous vote of the congregation.
A full-time staff member was assigned to assist in the Marketing, Singles, and Young Adult Ministries.
The Young Adult Ministry refurbished and dedicated the Young Adult Building!
The Men’s Ministry had scheduled and came together for a “general church clean-up day”! Thank you so very much, Men’s Ministry!
God provided the Mt. Zion Economic Development Corporation (“MZEDC”) with its first Executive Director, Robert Fletcher. Under the new Executive Director, the Board was able to refocus by establishing teams to carry out three key directives in the areas of education, health, and economic improvement.
Seven hundred and fifty (750) visitations were made to convalescent homes during 2007 through the continued and committed efforts of our various outreach ministries.
Other highlights include our Youth Director ministering in Uganda with Missionary Rene to disciple twenty-five (25) young adult musicians as well as to spread the gospel through relevant drama. One hundred and eighteen (118) people gave their hearts to Jesus! Travelling to St. Vincent, West Indies, another ministry team from Mt. Zion taught leadership development and dedicated a theological library with the blessing of the necessary donated items. Our Mexico ministry, interrupted temporarily at mid-year, is expected to resume in 2008. Please keep all who work in this ministry in your continued prayers.
We experienced a record high of seven (7) classes being made available for our Fall Session of Wednesday Night Bible Study! What a blessing and learning experience for all!
THE YEAR 2008
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” (Galatians 5:22).
Our 2008 New Year’s Eve Celebration began with scriptures, singing and testimonies. As the clock struck 12:00 midnight, we were all on our knees encouraging one another in the scriptures and the promises of God. We thank you, Lord, for yet another year full of your hope, blessings, and love.
Mt. Zion started the year with a $200,000.00 reduction in the church budget from the previous year of 2007. Six months into the new year of 2008, we reduced our spending an additional $100,000.00. These reductions reflected the economic recession in America. Despite the need for the reductions, we confirmed that our God IS “recession-proof” and that He is NOT headed for a depression! God is still the rich Creator of the heavens and the earth and is still able to do “exceedingly and abundantly” above all that we could ever ask or think (Eph. 3:20)!
God blessed Mt. Zion with two (2) newly appointed Elders – Lionel Newman and Floyd Johnson. God also blessed us with two (2) newly ordained Deacons – John Alfred and Robert Harris and one (1) newly ordained Deaconess – Sandra Alfred.
The various ministries of our church continued to be strong despite the economic downturn of that time. The following is a brief review of the activities and updates of some of our many church ministries:
The Children’s Ministry had a vibrant Summer Day Camp with emphasis on spiritual development and lots of fun! During this year, an intensive academic component was added with great success. Both students and parents were extremely pleased with the teachers that helped our children grow academically.
The Children’s Church team recruited more male speakers to give Sunday morning messages. In addition, new security measures were implemented to assure the protection and safety of our children.
The Children’s Ministry experienced significant growth in the Nursery reflecting an average of ten (10) to eighteen (18) children. The Nursery Sunday School class also grew averaging twenty (20) children each Sunday.
During this period, the members of our Youth Department expanded their career options by visiting such entities as (i) the Marty Group whose emphasis is in manufacturing, (ii) Verizon as to telecommunications, (iii) LAX in regard to transportation, (iv) Los Angeles Mission providing an insight into the homeless missions ministry, (v) the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station which provided a deeper level of understanding of how committed men and women defend our Nation, (vi) NBC Studios in the field of entertainment, (vii) Coldwell Bankers in regard to the finance world, (viii) the California Highway Patrol showing the inner workings of law enforcement from the “road”, (ix) Christian Heritage Care Center which reflected the importance and need for the compassionate care of the elderly, and last but not least, (x) the African American Museum which provided an insight into the culture and history of African Americans.
Mt. Zion’s high school students received a “perfect score” - twelve out of twelve! All twelve of our high school graduates entered college in the fall of that year! Hallelujah!
Committed to excellence in educating our children in spite of difficult family budget cutbacks caused by a fragile economy, Mt. Zion’s Christian School graduated another six (6) kindergartners.
Forty-three (43) youth pledged to abstain from sexual relationships until marriage through our annual True Love Waits Ministry.
In 2008, Mt. Zion’s Learning Center staff teamed up with our Children and Youth Department leaders to host our first Parent/Student Readiness Workshop at the beginning of the school year. Parents were introduced to student advocacy by staff of the San Bernardino County Schools. The Middle and High School students were given “AVID” training while elementary school students received “survival training.” Preschool parents were given a virtual Pre-Kindergarten training session and the pre-school students received socialization training!
Our Young Adult Ministry also continued to make strides in the areas of discipleship and evangelism. Members of this ministry helped organize an event entitled, “Worship on the Beach,” along with ten other churches. Members of this ministry also witnessed outside of our Mt. Zion immediate community - reaching out to those at Ontario Mills, Victoria Gardens and an area on Central Avenue in the City of Montclair. Through outreach efforts such as these, our young adults are experiencing the power of God and the joy of witnessing.
The Wednesday night “Hub” continues to provide a wholesome place where our Mt. Zion young adults can meet and fellowship with their peers as well as to equipping themselves for service through various studies. Although our young adults have several meetings together weekly, they are also intricately connected to the life of the church and participate at all levels. Our Young Adult Ministry is a Holy Spirit directed community of believers that refuse to buy into and thereby be a part of the doctrine of separatism and individualism.
The Adult Ministries at Mt. Zion also focused on the Great Commission during this year. Several new discipleship classes were taught during Sunday School, Wednesday Night Bible Study, “Thursday at Noon” Bible Study and through our Small Accountability Groups. Several of the classes that were offered were Spiritual Disciplines, Parenting, the Book of Romans, Stewardship, Marriage, Exploring the Bible, Fatherhood, Secret Sex Wars, and others.
Both small group and general church fellowships at Mt. Zion have deepened their love for God and for each other through various activities. A few of the activities held in 2008 were:
1. The Annual Church Picnic – which features as its grand finale the long-awaited, highly anticipated softball game – continues to take Christian fellowship to one of its highest level of excitement here on planet Earth!
2. The Couple’s Ministry during 2008 focused on marriages by hosting the annual Valentines Dinner, holding classes on Sundays during the Sunday School hour. Counseling is also offered.
The Los Angeles Bible Training School Extension Class held at Mt. Zion started with a record high attendance of nineteen (19) students!
Our Mt. Zion Praise Dancers were highlighted in Sacramento this year and were invited to teach a praise dance workshop locally.
Our Men and Women’s Ministries, the Nurturing Ministry, as well as the Deacons’ and Deaconess Ministries have played a critical role in helping to meet the unique needs in our Mt. Zion family.
Mt. Zion’s Ushers – lovingly and reverently known as our “silent servants” – presented a program on their Annual Usher’s Day that filled all who attended with joy, hope, and renewal.
The Lord once again demonstrated His faithfulness toward our mission’s team in Africa in 2008. Our Missionary, Sis. Rene Farquharson used her spiritual ears to listen for God’s direction and led us into Uganda, Rwanda, and the Congo! Brother Johnnell Williams – our Mt. Zion Youth Director – joined Sister Rene for the second year in a row. Over 3,000 people were lead to Christ using drama, the “Jesus” film, conferences, and revivals!
God also raised up our largest team ever to travel to St. Vincent, West Indies, for the third straight year! Our team of six (including one of our college football players) conducted three concurrent leadership development workshops (Spiritual Disciplines, Deacons training, and Deaconess training). The evening revival focused on relationships. Mt. Zion once again generously donated Dove soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, Tylenol, and reading glasses. We continue to learn that what we take for granted here in America can drastically change the lives for “good” in other parts of the world.
The Helping Hands Ministry, Convalescent Ministry, Singles Ministry, Audio Visual Team along with our Street Evangelism Team ministered to thousands of residents in 2008 with the gospel, food, and singing.
Our Harvest Festival on October 31, 3008 was the best yet with over 700 people from our church and community in attendance for an evening full of games, fun, and the message of the gospel!
During 2008, over twenty-five (25) people were baptized and over one hundred eighty (180) people received the Lord’s Supper during home and hospital visits made by the Deacons and Deaconess Ministries.
In 2008, it was very exciting to see the resurgence of Mt. Zion’s Transportation Ministry, which remains to be a vital enhancement to our outreach efforts!
A prayer team was also established during this year to intercede before and during the 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. worship services. God continued to bless Mt. Zion with an increase in prayer warriors who continue to hold us up in prayer through all night prayer and Monday night prayer meetings. Each one of us must continue to hold these prayer warriors up in our prayers as well.
Our Church Administration Division played a critical role in improving our financial tracking system for weekly briefings.
God has blessed our Building Campaign to reach the milestone of paying over $1,000,000.00 on the principle of the land loan! Moreover, the Lord led us to a new architect who had significantly more experience in building churches.
Our 86th Church Anniversary was kicked-off a week earlier in 2008 with a Sunday evening concert wherein we all were lifted to higher heights and deeper depths in Christ through song, worship and fellowship! The following Sunday the entire anniversary program (which included food, bouncers, face painting, singing and preaching) was held outdoors. A good time was had by all in attendance!
With the Lord leading us to build an army of prayer warriors and being more intentional in discipleship, our eyes have not seen, nor has it entered into our hearts all that God has in store for us as we love the Lord our God. (I Corinthians 2:9)
THE YEAR 2009
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The month of September 2009 is upon us as of this writing. Summer is almost officially over with our children returning to school and just a hint of Fall briefly touches our shoulders in the still of the evening air. The year 2009 is quickly coming to its close as we stop to wonder, “where did the time go.” This year has been full of blessings and events. Please read on and see how our Lord and Savior blessed us and “keeps on blessing” us.
We began 2009 once again on our knees in our annual New Year’s Eve Service, which this year featured the play, The Prodigal Son, written by Dean Myles, and directed by Johnnell Williams. This service is much more than a tradition at Mt. Zion. The New Year’s Service is a show of our commitment and thankfulness to God for remaining steadfast in His promises to us, and our love ones throughout the previous year. It is a time of prayer where we ask God for continued faith and strength to face the “tomorrows” before us. It is a time to say, “thank you Lord.” It is through our prayers and commitment to serve the Lord that Mt. Zion continues to move forward. We remain on our knees and in prayer until our Lord returns (Note to all future generations of Mt. Zion: “Please ensure that Mt. Zion moves forward on her knees!”).
Our Black History Program this year celebrated African heritage with a view to include the heritage and advancements of other ethnic groups as well. We went beyond “the color of one’s skin” and recognized:
Retired Fire Chief Fred Nelson for his courage to promote people of color in the Ontario Fire Department
Police Chief Doyle for courage to promote people of color in the Ontario Police Department;
Retired County School Superintendant Dr. Herb Fisher for his courage to put resources in underprivileged and low performing school districts to address the achievement gap;
Senator Neil Soto for marching with Dr. King and her continued fight for justice amongst all races; and
Pomona School Superintendent Dr. Thelma Melendez for inviting African American Pastors into the schools to help with African American students who are performing below the state standards.
This year, Mt. Zion was selected by the Inland Empire Association, along with twenty-one other churches in Southern California, to pilot the “God’s Plan for Sharing” (“GPS”). Four hundred volunteers reached approximately 88,000 homes in a joint effort to fine-tune a strategy to reach every home in America with the gospel by the year 2020. The Mt. Zion Cycling Ministry is featured in the GPS promotional!
Speaking of our Cycling Ministry, this ministry received cycling shirts in May of this year. Members of our Cycling Ministry not only enjoy great fellowship while they exercise but they also enjoy praying and witnessing for Christ in the different communities along the way. The Mt. Zion Cycling Ministry has participated in the following charity rides thus far in 2009 – the Tour de Foothills, Tour de Palm Springs, and the Los Angeles River Bike Run as well as the Cancer Walk in Pomona. Our Cycling Ministry has grown to over thirty (30) riders this year!
This year, Mt. Zion sent three church leaders to Africa to serve with our full-time missionary, Sis. Rene Farquharson. Jeffrey Freeman, Johnnell Williams (this is his third trip) and Pastor Richard Young met Sister Rene in Africa, for three (3) weeks of ministry. Jeffrey taught the musicians and choirs, while Johnnell taught young adults how to spread the gospel through the art of drama. Pastor Young taught the various Pastors key principles regarding the purpose of the church. Sister Rene developed Mt. Zion’s Africa Missions Ministry in August of 2002. God has used her in leading Mt. Zion to send necessary funds to purchase the land, build the necessary school buildings, and install a water tank system at the Nakaseeta Primary School in Nakaseeta, Uganda. Over 200 children were enrolled in the school as of July, 2009!
Here at home, Mt. Zion’s Deacons Ministry held their first annual Deacon’s Wives Appreciation Dinner. In an effort to build an army of prayer warriors, Mt. Zion’s Deacons and Deaconess restructured our all night prayer service to a “night of prayer” – now starting at 6:00 p.m. through 12:00 midnight. Several “nights of prayer” will be held each year.
This year, Mt. Zion held a “parking lot give-away” – to share our God given blessings with the community around us. God used our Young Adult Director, Brian Wallace, to share the gospel that morning. Throughout the day, the Word of God was shared with our various guests (writing materials were given out throughout the day).
“Hold On, You Can Make It!” a play written and directed by our very own Johnnell Williams, and performed by our Ministry of Arts Department was presented to a full house! This dramatic play was both a church and community ministry endeavor! The standing ovations at the end were proof positive of the successful spiritual impact the play had upon all in attendance!
God has given our “silent servants” – the Usher’s Ministry and the Audio Visual Ministry – the gifts of help, administration, and service to faithfully serve Mt. Zion throughout the year. We cannot thank you enough for all that you have done and continue to do for all of us who enter the house of the Lord.
The four-week Summer Children’s Day Camp and Youth Xtreme was a huge hit and our God moved on and in the hearts of our children. This year twenty children prayed the prayer of salvation and several were encouraged to read their Bibles more, to pray daily and to be of service for the Lord. The academic emphasis this year was on math, writing, and reading comprehension. The climax trip this year was to Magic Mountain! We thank God for raising up exceptional teachers and support staff for our summer youth ministries.
Vacation Bible School was also another exciting time for Mt. Zion this summer during which nine gave their hearts to the Lord!
During 2009, the fifth Sundays were designated as Mt. Zion’s Children and Youth Explosion Sunday’s. The Children and youth were designated to lead the worship services and they are recognized for their accomplishments. The Children and Youth Choirs were re-established and “Glorious” (the Next Generation praise dancers) will serve to praise the Lord on this designated Sunday as well.
Sunday August 30, was one of the great highlights in the 87-year history of Mt. Zion. Twenty saints were baptized at the 11:00 am service. Baptism represents new life in the church. Many of the candidates gave their hearts to Jesus in the children’s church. Praise the Lord!
During the period January 1, 2009 through September 6, 2009, thirty-two (32) new members joined Mt. Zion! During this same period, Mt. Zion baptized thirty-one (31) new members!
Mt. Zion’s Boxing Ministry expanded in 2009 to include a girls boxing team. Two of Mt. Zion’s boxers won during their participation in the 2009 Golden Glove competition! We had one boxer fight in the State competition in Ventura and won second place.
Our Fitness Program has been growing with more participants signing up every week. The importance of physical exercise and activities, as well as eating healthy, should be a part of our daily routine
Mt. Zion’s Wellness Ministry continues to thrive and bring forth their mission statement in educating not only Mt. Zion but also the surrounding community regarding heart health. For the past eight months, the Wellness Ministry has made a special effort to reach beyond the church walls out into the community to bring awareness of the health care disparity that exists within the African American and Latino communities. The year was kicked-off by presenting the first Heart Health Conference at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The conference featured breakout groups focusing specifically on cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, nutrition and physical exercise. Over seventy-five (75) people participated! The conference was presented (i) to encourage heart health screening, (ii) to answer questions and (iii) to hand out pamphlets and brochures on “heart disease” – the number one killer for all Americans!
Giving back to the community is another important focus for the Wellness Ministry. Over thirty-one (31) individuals participated in our bi-annual efforts to collaborate with the American Red Cross Blood Drives during the months of February and December. Mt. Zion and the community contributed enough blood to save ninety-three (93) lives!
Once again, Mt. Zion collaborated with the American Cancer Society and the County of San Bernardino Public Health to implement the “Body and Soul – A Celebration for Healthy Eating and Living” and “Champion for Change – A Healthy California.” Bringing a nutrition program to Mt. Zion and the community was long overdue. This past July (2009) during Vacation Bible School, the Wellness Ministry kicked off the “Body and Soul” program which encourages everyone to eat at least 5-8 fruits and vegetables each day. Seventy-three participants signed a contract to eat five (5) fruits and vegetables a day along with daily exercise and attending events on nutrition hosted by the Wellness Ministry! Our Wellness Ministry received community support from local businesses in the area, Mt. Zion Economic Development Corporation, Stater Brothers, Albertsons, and Vons!
During the month of October, 2009 Mt. Zion’s Wellness Ministry will be handing out pamphlets and brochures on Breast Cancer and breast screening.
God used our very own Pastor Richard Young to install additional lighting in the sanctuary. We were all amazed to see the difference that a few extra lights enhanced our ability to see at night and during the day. On Monday, August 31, 2009, God woke up Milton Harris, owner of Color Floors in Rancho Cucamonga, and spoke to his heart about blessing the church. Once Bro. Harris clarified what God was saying, he loaded up his truck with beautiful Italian porcelain tile, and met his installation crew at the church that same morning and installed tile in all the hallways of the church education building. God also used brother “Jim” to provide two brand new freezers for Helping Hands so that we could triple our capacity to store frozen foods to distribute to community around us.
In August of 2009, the Annual Mt. Zion Church Picnic took place. The fellowship (good conversation, good Christian music and lots of laughter), food (hmm – barbeque chicken, ribs and baked beans, salads, cakes, pies, and Rev. Newman’s homemade ice cream just to name a few of the best culinary delights), and fun (from the hula-hoop contest to the year-long awaited softball game) can only be described in two words – okay, maybe three – ABSOLUTELY POSITVELY AWESOME!
Two more words that describe our 2009 Church Picnic – THE BEST!
The future of Mt. Zion is bright. The aerial renderings of the eighteen (18) acre development on Chino Avenue and Grove have brought renewed excitement and a deeper determination to submit to the perfect plan of our Lord.
We celebrated the lives of 46 members and loved ones of members that went to heaven since our 2008 church anniversary. Our hearts are heavy each time we think about them, yet God brings us comfort in knowing that we will see them again. We thank God for the faithfulness of the Mt. Zion Ushers, Choir, Deacons, Deaconess, Ministers, and the Hospitality ministries for faithfully serving families in their time of bereavement.
Mt. Zion is a blessed church and God’s hand is upon us. We are all traveling together on this journey called “life.” Together we share its joys and we bear each other’s burdens and heartaches. If someone stumbles, we help him or her get to his or her feet; if someone veers off course, we urge him or her back. On this journey, Christians are all brothers and sisters in the same family – God’s family (I Corinthians 12). Hence, despite the “Great Recession” in America this year, we are determined to survive and thrive on the promises of God (Psalm 23:6).
As Mt. Zion’s history continues to unfold, the Key Leadership team is committed to pursuing our strategic direction which is (1) building an army of prayer warriors and (2) intentionally making loyal followers of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:18-20).
“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
 The terms “Colored churches” and “White churches” were common in the early 1920s. Today many Christians see the church as “The Body of Christ” as described throughout the New Testament.
 Forty (40) acre lots were considered in that the church could sell portions of the lots to raise capital for expansion.