The History of HMZ AME

Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church has an interesting history dating back to the days before the South received their emancipation. It was during those dismal days that a small group of Christians bound together by an unfaltering trust in God and faith in their fellowmen decided to form an organization known as a society, the purpose of which was religious worship. 

This society was organized sometime during the summer of 1866. Prominent among its first Members were David Petty, Major Johnson, Cubit Wilson, Josiah H. Armstrong, Henry Adkins, George Lofton, Sr., April Dixon, Lucinda Bennett, Robert Fatio, Wealthy N. Hansberry, Mothers Bram and Wilson, John Thomas, Samuel Morgan, William Nobles and George Mosley.

The Structure and The Fire

The first meeting house was a “Bush Harbor”, the Second, a frame structure, built on the “California Style” and the third was also a frame structure, but built more with a modern style with a seating capacity between twelve and fifteen hundred. This structure was built some time during the pastorate of Rev. J.H. Welch, and completed about the year 1890, with a seating capacity of about fifteen hundred. Unfortunately, this beautiful structure was destroyed by fire on May 3, 1901. Later, a tent was erected where the former parsonage stood (next to the church) for members to worship and wait for the laying of the foundation for the present Mt. Zion. The members began the big job of raising money to rebuild the structure. 

Our Location

The Society sent a petition by Major Johnson to the Annual Conference of Georgia, which met in Savannah, for a pastor. Charles Pierce was Presiding Elder of Florida. This Society was then properly organized as Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church on July 28, 1866, thus taking formal charge of the property. This land was one hundred five square feet of property on the northeast corner of Beaver and Newnan Streets. This was acquired before the emancipation. The membership at this time was between seventy-five and one hundred. Several of these had been members of the Methodist Church South (White), by whom they were encouraged and given both financial and spiritual assistance. 

150 Years and Counting

Since 1866 – celebrating our 150th year in 2016 -- Historic Mt. Zion has grown and served the downtown Jacksonville, Florida community. The Early Church paved the way for us today. We will forever remember our Elders with pride. They loved and cared for us, and passed a cherished heritage on to us. Our Elders educated us and opened our eyes to the beauty of our past and the hopefulness of our future. 

They taught us to love ourselves and one another. Thanks be to God for Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and the noble company of men and women in Philadelphia in 1787 who rejected the discrimination at St. Georges Methodist Church and organized the Free African Society. It is on their shoulders that we now stand. We give thanks to the Lord, and the founders of this congregation, where faithful people gather each week to sing, pray, and serve. We are proud of the rich legacy and heritage of Historic Mt. Zion, proud to be African Methodist Episcopal.