How it all started...

The present New Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church has its roots anchored in the soil of two congregations that existed before the turn of the Twentieth Century. The names of these two congregations were Zion Hill and Mount Moriah.

The deed which documents the purchase of the Zion Hill property is dated 1890. We are fortunate to still have this document in our possession.

According to Bro. Hudnell (deceased) Zion Hill Church was organized shortly after the slaves were emancipated. During slavery each plantation had a place to bury its dead and a church in which to worship. Both of these were provided by the plantation owners. Thus, it would appear that the first Zion Hill was a plantation church.

The deeding of the property to the general church was necessary to avoid any future legal problems with those who originally deeded the property to the church. It seems that the original property was purchased from a Mr. John Winthrop, at ten dollars per acre. The first structure was built out of palmetto branches, and these were overlapped in order to protect the worshipers from inclement weather.

Expanding the vision...

As the congregation grew and flourished, the desire and need for a more stable building was realized. The dream of a new sanctuary began under the able leadership of Reverend Meadows. The new sanctuary was finally completed under the pastorate of Reverend Coward. It is unfortunate that the first names of the Reverends Meadows and Coward are not known.

Due to lost records and other uncontrolled circumstances, ministers who have served Zion Hill could not be placed in chronological order. However, you should know that the following people contributed significantly to the growth and progress of this church.

The Mount Moriah congregation had its genesis on the corner of Miccosukee and Riggins Road. If you drive east on the Miccosukee Road, you will see an electrical booster station on the west corner of Riggins Road at Miccosukee. This was the site of the original Mount Moriah AME Church.

Although extensive information regarding the organization and growth of the Mount Moriah AME Church is not available, oral reports reveal that Rev. Hogan, Rev John Diggs (1992), Rev. Hogan, Rev G.B. Chambers, Rev. J. L. Nealy, Rev. Fryer (1948), Rev M. Morris, Rev A.H. Hunter, Rev. Henry Austin, Rev J. Farmer, Rev. W.J. Thomas, Rev. I. F. Bradley served as pastors of Mount Moriah AME Church.

Under the guidance of Rev. W. J. Thomas, the Zion Hill and Mount Moriah congregations talked of a merger. The actual merger was completed in 1953. Rev. W. J. Thomas was instrumental in moving the merged congregation to the Fifth Avenue location, a structure which still stands.
The present New Mount Zion received its name from Zion Hill and Mount Moriah. Under the leadership of Rev. J. L. Daniels, a new structure was built in 1968 at 704 West Fourth Avenue and Dewey Street. Rev. A.L. Bennett served as Presiding Elder of the Tallahassee District, and Rev. J. L. Daniels was the pastor of New Mt. Zion.

After twenty one years of dedicated service to New Mt Zion AME Church, Rev. Daniels moved on to Palace AME Church in Havana, Florida. To replace Rev. Daniels, Bishop Samuel S. Morris Jr., appointed Rev. James Leander Byrd as pastor of New Mount Zion AME Church.

Rev. D. H. Jamison served as the Presiding Elder of the Tallahassee District in 1982. He retired in 1989 and died in 1995. Following Rev. Jamison’s retirement the Rev. Ralph L. Wilson was appointed as the Presiding Elder of the Tallahassee District by Rev. Phillip R. Cousin, Presiding Bishop of the Eleventh Episcopal District.

Realizing that the congregation had outgrown the Fourth Avenue and Dewey Street structure, the church was sold in August 1994 and the building of a new sanctuary was started in October of 1994, under the guidance of Pastor J. Leander Byrd. While the new structure was being built at 1401 Old Bainbridge Road, the congregation held Sunday worship service at Griffin Middle School. The new structure was completed in 1995.

In 2003, Dr. J. Leander Byrd was elevated to a Presiding Elder. In November of 2003, the LORD ushered in a new era for New Mt. Zion. Rev. John F White II became the Pastor. Rev. White who is joined in marriage and in ministry by his wife, Rev. Maria, has led the New Mt. Zion Church to higher heights. Since Rev. White’s arrival, hundreds of persons have united with the New Mt. Zion Church and he has led the church in the building of the J. Leander Byrd Center, an educational and administrative complex, along with a complete renovation of the sanctuary.

Rev. White’s vision of a church that touches lives and meets needs is being fulfilled through the many existing and the new ministries that have been established: Angel Tree, Grief Recovery, Hospitality, Male Ushers, Youth Ushers, Journey of Faith TV Ministry, Journey of Faith Radio Ministry, Outreach Ministry, Voices of Praise Choir, Girl Scouts, Blessing Ministry and so many others. An enhanced commitment to serving the Frenchtown/Griffin Heights Communities has been implemented through our Come Together Day and the Birthday Party for Jesus, along with monthly outreach efforts that touch lives and meet needs.

In November 2008 Bishop McKinley Young appointed Rev. Anton G. Elwood to be the lead servant of New Mt. Zion. Under Pastor Elwood's leadership, New Mt. Zion experienced tremendous growth in faith and numbers.

In June 2023 Bishop Frank M. Reid III appointed Rev. Michael Bell, Jr. as the pastor of New Mt. Zion. Pastor Mike currently serves as our servant leader as the Lord directs us to new heights.