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
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
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.
Rev. S. S. Sampson (served twice) / Rev. Billy Washington
/ Rev. J. Hogan Rev. T.B. Brooks /
Rev. F. H. Johnson Rev. H. Davis / Rev. I. H. Hackley Rev. H.
S. Henry /
Rev. C. J. Reed Rev. L. D. Johnson /
Rev. Hardy Jones Rev. T. E. Yant (Mrs. Yant’s husband) /
Rev. I .F. Bradley Rev. Wilson /
Rev. Parish Rev. W. M. Mitchell / Rev. Frye Rev. W. H. Davis /
Rev. G. W. Farmer Rev. J. J. Jackson /
Rev. W. H. Braxton Rev. J. W. Pinkey / Rev. W. J. Thomas
Rev. A. H. Hunter (Mrs. Murphy’s father) /
Rev. Richardson Rev. G. Chambers Sr. (Mrs. McFadden’s brother)
Rev. E. L. O’Neil Rev. R. H. Edmond (1960-1961) / Rev Y.
B. Bruce (1958)
Rev. J. L. Daniels (1961-1982) /
Rev. J. L. Byrd (1982-2003) Rev. John F. White II (2003-2008)
/ Rev. Anton G. Elwood (Present)
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
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
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. A new season of: Ministry,
Favor, and Power has begun in the life of this blessed ministry!
All things are possible to those who believe!!