History of New Mount Zion Baptist Church
1946 – 1957
To many, a dream is just something that happens while you are asleep, nothing but a weak memory of something that could have been.
To many, a dream is the brainchild of people who hope, but never accomplish; aspire, but never achieve.
However, on a cold day in January, 1948, the dream of five women became more than something that happened in the night, more than a meaningless aspiration. It became the catalyst for the organization, building, and subsequent growth of what we now call New Mount Zion.
New Mount Zion had an humble beginning. Five women met with Rev. T.J. Jernigan to organize a Baptist church in far North Dallas. These farmland settlements which originated before the turn of the century were known as the lower White Rock area. These early pioneering families, the Bonners and the Subers had large agricultural farms. Sis. Cleopatra Wallace is a descendant of the Bonners. Sis. L’Vergia Suber Johnson is the daughter of Bro. William and Sis. Janie Suber. These pioneers dreamed of a Baptist church closer to their homes for their families to attend. Prior to World War II, families held picnics on the Anderson Bonner Farm. Evidence of their landholdings is found with Bonner Street near the Academy Store to the right of exit #19, Forest Lane, and also in the property where Medical City Hospital is now located (Forest Lane and Central Expressway).
In January, 1946, New Mount Zion was organized by these women – Sis. Callie Bonner, Sis. Armentra Bonner, Sis Janie Suber, Sis. Eunice Suber, and Sis. Margaret Robertson – in the home of Bro. and Sis. William Suber. The five women were members of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church on Preston Road. Their pastor was Rev. Willie Moore. However, they wanted to have a Baptist church in their community. Under the auspices of the Greater Rising Star District Association, with Rev. T.J. Jernigan as pastor, New Mount Zion Baptist Church was formed.
Other leaders who helped to organize the church were:
Rev. Fred Bookman – Moderator
Rev. J.H. Watson – Vice-Moderator
Rev. A.L. Schley – Secretary
Rev. A.L. Pate – President of Sunday School Congress
Rev. James Random
Sis. Willie Bolden
Shortly after the organization, Sis. Artency McCoy and Sis. Seleka Crow joined the church.
Membership rose steadily until it was impossible to continue meeting in the home of Bro. and Sis. Suber. Under the guidance of Rev. T.J. Jernigan, a tent was secured and the church continued serving the Lord. In June 1946, the decision was made to build a church. It was just a decision at the time because the members had no money.
Having a genuine concern and a willing heart, Sis. Armentra Bonner discussed with Bro. Emanuel Bonner, her husband, how their resources could meet the need. In agreement, they allowed the members to build New Mount Zion’s first church building on their property located on Coit Road east of Central Avenue. (The members later purchased the property.)
It was evident that God was the leader in this church as building the church was a community project. Many bent nails donated by Bro. John Grant – brought from his construction cleanup job – were straightened and used for building the church. Bro. Fred and Sis. Ethel Flewellen took pride in preparing food for the ministers when they came to assist with building the church.
Under the leadership of Rev. T.J. Jernigan, the church membership continued to grow. Auxiliaries were formed - the beginning of an Usher Board, the beginning of a Youth Department, and a Mission group. As the membership grew, enough money was raised which allowed the members to purchase the property from Bro. Emanuel Bonner for $350.00.
1957 – 2012
In 1957, after the resignation of Rev. T. J. Jernigan, the congregation was faced with the problem of making decisions without the guidance of a minister. However, recalling St. John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled...”, they, like the disciples, were able to continue steadfastly in prayer and on one accord until the Lord sent another shepherd, Rev. C.C. Anderson. This preacher was truly a great man at New Mount Zion and played his part in the continued growth of the church. All of the organizations continued to flourish, membership continued to increase, and the financial stability of the church began to magnify.
In the late 1950s, the Texas Department of Transportation in Dallas needed a portion of Bro. Emanuel and Sis. Armentra Bonner’s property to expand Central Avenue to high-speed Central Expressway. The church had to relocate their church building west across Coit Road. When the church relocated, the white frame building was modernized with red bricks. New Mount Zion purchased the land from Bro. Governor and Sis. Artency McCoy for $650.00. Sis. Jewel Gaut is the granddaughter of the McCoys.
Rev. W.E. Harvey became pastor in 1961 after the resignation of Rev. C.C. Anderson. In the unity that only our Savior gives through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-16), the church was blessed with an ever-increasing membership.
All of the auxiliaries began to take their places. The Missionary Society took its place in the community. The leaders of the Youth Department continued to grow in numbers and in Christian training. Progress was seen throughout the community because of the dream that five women put into action. Rev. W.E. Harvey resigned in 1969, leaving the church, with its humble origin, serving well in the community.
In October, 1969, God sent Rev. R.E. Price, a dynamic Christian, devoted husband, loving father, and spiritual counselor, to be New Mount Zion’s Pastor. During his guidance and ministry, New Mount Zion grew tremendously in Christian stewardship, Christian education, leadership, fellowship, and love. When he came to New Mount Zion, there were less than 100 members. Under his pastorage, the church grew to more than 2,000 members with 25 religious, educational, business, and technological ministries to meet the needs of all the members. Through the years, the number of ministers who aided Pastor Price in ministering to those in need ranged from 15-20.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 spurred a wave of change. The Richardson Independent School District adhered to the mandatory court order to desegregate in 1969. As a result, a large influx of people moved north of Dallas. Another hospital was needed so Medical City Hospital was created. The lower White Rock farm settlements would experience change – including the church property. The realtor for Medical City found property in the Stults Road Community for the church. Pastor Price held a Groundbreaking Service and the members enthusiastically watched as the new church edifice was built at 9530 Shepherd Road. The Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and Entrance Service were held on April 1, 1973.
Old programs were restructured and new programs were organized to further meet the needs of the growing membership. Many believers united with the church and many were baptized. The progress at New Mount Zion was unbelievable to the extent that it became a “beacon light” in the community. New Mount Zion opened its day care center in Spring 1977 to meet the needs of the children of members and the community.
After watching the congregation grow, Pastor Price saw the need for expansion. Plans were made in 1978 to expand the choir stand, extend the pulpit, and add three additional classrooms.
The Children’s Church was organized to reach more of our young people. Other organizations established were the Nurse’s Guild, the R.E. Price Choir (which was later combined with the Senior Choir and renamed the Sanctuary Choir), and the Young Adult Outreach (which was later renamed the Junior Mission Outreach).
The Brotherhood was re-organized after recognizing the need for a stronger male leadership in promoting the spirit of Christ. The Mission Women supported evangelism, home and foreign mission, Christian education, and the involvement of women in Christian service.
With the continual growth of New Mount Zion, more space was needed. The church purchased the residential property of the Aiken and Grant families on Shepherd Road for the purpose of a larger sanctuary and more parking space. The edifice at 9550 Shepherd Road was completed in 1991. After paying off the new sanctuary, the focus was on purchasing residential property at the corner of Stults Road and Shepherd Road. In 1998, the church purchased the property at 8835 Stults Road for a Family Life Center. This building would serve as a place for special events on the second floor and the day care on the first floor.
In 2000, Pastor Price’s dream of having a credit union was achieved when the New Mount Zion Baptist Church Credit Union was chartered. The credit union served close to 700 members when it merged with InTouch Credit Union in 2014.
Through the years, New Mount Zion has hosted Greater Rising Star District Association meetings and the 88th and 95th Annual Sessions of the State Congress of Christian Workers. In June 2008, Dr. R.E. Price and New Mount Zion were honored to host the 102nd National Baptist Congress. This convention brought thousands of attendees from across the United States to Dallas for a spiritually-enlightening and uplifting session and generated $8-10 million of income for the city and local businesses.
Pastor Price was known to be a man of true benevolence with a kind and generous spirit. He faithfully served the congregation of New Mount Zion and the surrounding community for over 42 years until his passing on July 14, 2012.
2014 – Present
In October 2014, Dr. Tommy L. Brown was called as the 5th pastor of New Mount Zion. Pastor Brown serves on the local, state, and national levels and had over 25 years of pastoral service prior to coming to New Mount Zion. Under his leadership, New Mount Zion has continued to flourish and grow. New programs have been instituted, existing programs and ministries have been revised, and membership has grown to more than 2,500.
In 1946, five women had a dream of a new church. With a tremendous amount of prayer, this vision has become a reality.
What happens to a dream? A dream deferred is like a raisin left in the sun, it withers and dies.
We see great evidence that their dream was not left in the sun. It is not dead because it was shaded by the hand of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.