The History of Mt. Zion Baptist Church

A Century of Progress Through Faith, 1880-1980

Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Asheville, North Carolina celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary with a weeklong celebration that began Monday, November 24, 1980.

The Church was organized in the spring of 1880 by Rev. Robert Parker Rumly, who called together a small group, for the specific purpose of organizing a new Baptist church in Asheville. The meeting was held in a building at the corner of Patton Avenue and Bailey Street, now Ashland Avenue.

Shortly after Rev. Rumly had established the church, he and the charter members invited a Reverend Frederick Brown from Greenville, S.C. to conduct a revival. At this time the members had not decided on a name for their new church, but during the revival Reverend Brown said, "I will call this church Mount Zion because I have never known a Mount Zion that did not thrive."

Reverend Rumly was deeply religious; he preached on Pack Square as well as in the church. He preached to capacity crowds every Sunday, and is best known for his sermon "De Dry Bones in De Valley."

The church building on Patton was condemned and the church moved to a building on Eagle Street. Reverend Rumly was a good leader, as well as a good preacher, he led his members for seventeen years, after which came Reverend Jacob Robert Nelson, one of the greatest preachers and civic leader Asheville has ever known white or black. Following Rev. Nelson was Reverend J. W. Hairston. After Rev. Hairston came Rev. J.W. White, the present pastor.

Rev. Rumly served the church seventeen years. Rev. Nelson served thirty years. Rev. Hairston served twenty-one years. Rev. White the present pastor has served 34 years.