2014: MT. ZION UM CHURCH HISTORY - Celebrating 120 Year Homecoming


The Mt. Zion United Methodist Church has been a mainstay
in the community since 1894, in the nearby expansive cemetery
reposes citizens from the community, even before the
church was established with the earliest burial in 1877

Mt. Zion Community 1910

Church members congregate with brass
band, at a homecoming in the 1920s

The Mt. Zion United Methodist Church will celebrate their 120th Anniversary with a Homecoming this weekend, October 18th and 19th. For details see Homecoming

The Mount Zion community was settled by people from other parts of West Virginia soon after the close of the Civil War, a large number of them coming from Barbour County. They came from sections of West Virginia where education and Christianity were foremost in the thoughts and practices of the leading persons of these sections.

Moving into this community where there were neither churches nor schools did not discourage them, for they showed by their lives that they were determined by the help of God to have and to leave for their posterity as good accommodations as they enjoyed in their old homes.

At first they met and organized a class at the home of Oscar Kelley, on the head of Daniels Run, where they held regular religious services and where the Rev. Traynor came about the year 1868 and filled his regular appointments and held revival meetings until better accommodations could be provided for.

On April 17, 1871, death took from the home of A. J. (Jay) and Alcinda Marteney Stemple of Barnes Run, their oldest son, John M., aged three years. He was buried at the head of Sinking Springs on land of Jay Stemple. In 1915 the Mt. Zion Methodist Church received a deed for this parcel of land that is called the Stemple Cemetery of the Mt. Zion Cemetery No.2.

Again death visited the community and took from the home of A. J. (Jack) and Margaret A. Stemple their daughter, Dorcas, aged nine years, who was killed by a falling tree near their home on Mud Lick, December 2, 1872. They laid her to rest on the hill above their home, and Ahab Stalnaker, Levi Gainer and Sollie Wilson cut and split rails and fenced the grave before returning to their homes after this funeral.

Soon after this, he question came up about locating and building a church. The two brothers, Jay and Jack Stemple, each offered to donate the land for the church and cemetery at the place where the children of each had been buried. Jack's offer was accepted by the classes as the more suitable location. A hewed log church was built in 1875. The leaders of this work were Oscar Kelley and A. J. Stemple, assisted by the people of the community. The lumber used in the church was sawed on Pine Creek by John McCoy.

The Rev. Mr. Perkins, who had been preaching for the class at the home of Oscar and Nancy Kelley, continued as their first minister in the log church. The church also served for school purposes, with classes held in the log church until a schoolhouse was built.

About the year 1892, the members of the Mt. Zion log church began planning to build a new frame building, being encouraged and assisted by their minister, the Rev. H. K. Rife, who was the last minister in the log church.

The new frame church was soon built and served the congregation well until the need for a newer building was felt in 1946 and a building committee was formed and began making plans for the new church building. Construction began in 1950 with the use of skilled labor, who were paid 75 cents an hour, and volunteers. Later the need was felt to update the building and in 1985 remodeling was begun on the present structure.

Record of Pastors since 1894 H.K. Rife 1894, Rev. Kinder 1895, Rev. Dunbar 1903, Rev. Kinder 1906, Rev. Jones 1908. F.H Hughes 1910, G.G. Hamrick 1912, G.C. Harris 1914, Rev. Morris 1916, A.P. Parsons 1917 P. Showen 1921, A.G. Chancey 1923, A.P. Poling 1925, Rev. Hicks 1927, A.G. Sydenstricker 1930, P. Maness 1932, Rev. Goodwin 1934, J.T. Lewis 1935, H.C. Eismon 1937, C. Wikinsen 1940, W. Summers 1945, Glendon McKee l94l-1985, Rev. McHenry 1954-1955, Roger McKee 1985-1986. Glendon McKee (returned) 1986-1997, Brad McBee 1997-1999, Rev. Rick Swearengin 1999, Rev. Donald Stilgendaurs, Rev. David Weaver.