Baptists believe that the Church of Jesus Christ is a body of baptized believers, associated together in a place where the gospel is preached, church ordinances are kept and where the emphasis is on representing Christ's Kingdom to the world.
Holding fast to this belief during the month of April, in the year of 1929 of our Lord; a small group of followers of Christ associated and fellowshipped together in a tent on Fourth Street for religious worship and work. The small group of Christians was led by The Holy Spirit to form the New Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church.
The Reverend A. Darby was called to pastor from 1929 to 1932, and trusting in God’s leadership Pastor Darby saw the need to change from Primitive Baptist to Missionary Baptist. After Reverend A. Darby’s pastoral leadership, God sent Rev. Lawrence Smith as pastor.
New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church relocated from the tent to a six room house at the corner of Texas Avenue and Fourth Street. The Church remained there for one year under the leadership of Reverend “Jumping Joe” Williams. At the same location and still believing that God’s Spirit was leading them, the Church began looking for another worship house. They were led to a building at Sixth Street and Texas Avenue with their new Pastor, Reverend Brooks.
Under his pastoral leadership, they purchased a building for $50.00 on the corner of Third Street and Ohio Avenue. It was at this location that Reverends Lattimore and Wilson served as pastors. Reverend Wilson was still Pastor when the Church relocated to Third Street and Ohio Avenue. After one year at this location in 1938, Reverend David Smith became pastor and served from 1938 to mid-1941. Reverend D. Dukes then served as pastor at this location during the latter months of 1941 and through 1945. It was at this site in the early 1940’s two deacons, Deacon John Fuller and Deacon G. F. Roundtree, were instrumental in getting the Church chartered; and Deacons Fuller, Sanders, Fred Dixon, Johnny Keyes, and Pittman (chairman), along with Pastor W. King laid the foundation and actually built the new edifice themselves. New Mt. Zion was without a pastor from 1945 to 1954. Every other Sunday the Church would assemble and worship with Macedonia Primitive Baptist Church. During Reverend D. Dukes’ tenure, Deacon Joe Haynes served as chairman for a period of one year.
In the spring of 1954, Rev. Calvin Henry Bolden became part-time interim pastor. There were about eighty (80) members. Pastor Bolden accepted fulltime leadership in 1957. Under his pastoral leadership and total dedication to Christ, the membership soared from eighty (80) to approximately three hundred fifty (350) members. It was during this time that the church was dubbed "Holy Ghost Headquarters". Deacon Roundtree served as chairman of the deacons, followed by Deacon S. M. Campbell.
The Church was relocated to the present site at Webster Avenue and Ninth Street in the year of 1968, and with unshaken faith was paid off in 1978. Reverend Bolden served as pastor for twenty-seven years until his death in 1981. During his leadership many wonderful changes and accomplishments were showered down upon the New Mt. Zion family. He instilled into the body to put on the, “Whole armor of God”. He stressed the importance of Christians being spiritually active, civic minded and concerned with the whole man. Also, under his pastoral leadership many young men received their calling to preach the word of God. He gladly opened the pulpit to assist them in their ministerial walk. They became known as the, “The sons of New Mt. Zion”. Deacon Arthur Daniels served as chairman of the deacons. Subsequent Deacon Daniels’ chairmanship, Deacon Willie Terry became chairman. After the passing of Rev. Bolden two pastors were called—Rev. Michael D. Warren and Rev. George I. Bradley, Jr. Both preachers accepted but neither actually served as pastor.
After a period of fasting and praying, in 1984, Reverend Lueray Norris was called and remained shepherd of this flock for ten years. The Church grew both spiritually and numerically under his leadership. It was under Pastor Norris’ leadership that the motto, “LOVE IS THE REASON, was adopted”. Similar to Reverend Bolden, Reverend Norris freely opened the pulpit doors to assist young men who had professed their calling. Deacon Willie Terry continued to serve as chairman of the deacons during Rev. Norris tenure; then Deacon Ambrose Austin became chairman of the deacons. In December of 1994, Pastor Norris resigned his position as pastor of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church on the first Sunday morning before service began.
After seeking God’s revelation for seven months on Sunday, July 30, 1995, the New Mt. Zion family called Dr. Joe S. Hardie from Portland, Oregon, to pastor. It was on Sunday, September 3, 1995, that he came before the congregation and accepted the pastorate of New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church and his appointment became official on Sunday, October 1, 1995.
Under Pastor Hardie’s pastoral leadership, the Church continued to grow spiritually, numerically and financially. Shortly after his arrival, several improvements were made to the building. The building was refurbished on the inside. Additionally, “A NEW WORSHIP FACILITY” seating approximately one thousand (1,000) people was built. New Mt. Zion broke ground on Wednesday, April 17, 1996, for the building of the new church facility which was completed in August 1997. In 1998, the fellowship hall was remodeled on Sunday, November 22nd, and the facility was dedicated and named the “C. H. Bolden Fellowship Hall” in memory of Reverend Calvin Henry Bolden. Reverend Joe S. Hardie served as pastor of New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church from Sunday, October 1, 1995 until Tuesday, April 28, 2009.
After a period of deliberation, fasting and praying, the Reverend Kendrix J. Gardner, Sr. of Valdosta, Georgia was called to pastor New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Sunday, July 11, 2010, the New Mt. Zion Church family welcomed Pastor Gardner. The Church celebrated “God’s Rainbow for New Mt. Zion”! Pastor Gardner was officially installed on Sunday, September 19, 2010, as pastor of New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Subsequent his arrival, Pastor Gardner reorganized New Mt. Zion Church ministry infrastructure, and instituted a van ministry. In addition, he established a radio ministry at WWAB—1330 A.M. and a website: www.newmtzionlakelandfl.org .
As Pastor Gardner so fondly remind us, we’re “moving forward…” our Lord and savior has propelled New Mt. Zion’s spiritual growth under his pastoral leadership; plus, many souls have been added to the Lord’s Church. Moreover, new ministries have been introduced; such as, Zion Angels Dance Ministry. In March of 2010, Deacon Samuel Simmons was appointed Chairman of the Deacons shortly after the transition of the long-time patriarch, Deacon Ambrose Austin.
New Mt. Zion has been truly blessed over the years. Under the powerful, dynamic, and anointed leadership of Pastor Kendrix J. Gardner, Sr., the church has continued to soar and grow in ways that the membership dared to dream or imagine. The church has experienced strong growth numerically, financially and most of all spiritually under Pastor Gardner’s leadership. A summary of some of the recent accomplishments include:
A primary goal was reducing the mortgage debt by re- financing the church with a lower interest rate and a shorter length of the loan in 2013; we were blessed to obtain a new loan with an interest rate of 4.49% and a term of 15 years. Both the interest rate and length of the loan was reduced by 50%. This action has save the church more than a million dollars. Now that the refinancing is complete, the new financial goal is to pay off the current loan sooner than anticipated by making additional payments each year based on the church’s financial performance. New Mt. Zion’s buildings will be debt free when this loan is paid. O give thanks unto the Lord! New Mt. Zion was valued at $1, 375,000 million dollars prior to the improvements listed below. We thank God that the value of His sanctuary and house of worship has now increased substantially with the following improvements:
• CH Bolden Fellowship Hall and Kitchen was renovated.
• Baptismal services were relocated from the fellowship hall to the main sanctuary with the installation of a new pool.
• The main parking lot was repaved with an increase in regular and handicap parking spaces.
• Walkway and lighting improvements were made between the church and the fellowship hall.
• A parking lot ministry was established.
• Sound system improvements were made.
• Improvements were made in Telephone and internet services with Wi-Fi and Hot spot capability.
• Improvements to the New Mt. Zion Website were completed.
• Communion preparation site improvements made.
• Automatic External Defribulators (AED) installed in the main sanctuary and fellowship hall.
• An electronic state of the art lighted church sign was installed
• New Signage for the CH Bolden Fellowship hall was installed.
• The church purchased additional land for parking. The church now has three (3) off the road parking lots that accommodates up to180 cars. Other parking improvements include, new car Stops and signage for the parking lots.
• Reorganized and streamlined processes and procedures and updated the technology in the administrative office.
• Developed written guidelines for funerals and rental of the church with improved communications.
• Other advancements made under Pastor Gardner’s leadership include:
• Re-launching of the Church Vision
• Re-organizing and improved the church’s Sunday school format
• Phenomenal growth in the children’s church, Bible Study, Music, and Health and Wellness Ministries.
• Provision of activities/trips that encourage fellowship and persona relationships among the church members.
We rejoice and thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon this ministry. Truly, He has blessed and enriched the New Mt. Zion Church Family over the past 86 years. We know that God will continue to supply our needs and lead us to the blessed place that He has prepared for us. Let us continue to demonstrate our thankfulness through our steadfast support of New Mt. Zion Ministries in the years to come. To God be the glory for all that He has done!