Mount Zion Baptist Church celebrates 160th anniversary

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Mount Zion Baptist Church in Baton Rouge celebrated its 160th anniversary Sunday morning.

The church has been located on or near East Boulevard for that entire span, only changing buildings or being reconstructed several times. It survived the civil war and served as a focal point of the Civil Rights Movement in Louisiana.

Tolor White has been a member of the 1950's. He remembers when the Baton Rouge Bus Boycotts were organized at Mount Zion.

Reverend Theodore Judson Jemison led that historic movement, which served as a model for the more well known Montgomery Bus Boycotts. Jemison would serve as pastor for more than fifty years.

"Members are allowed to be here and do the things that they need to do, that they feel they should do," White said.

This morning, Mount Zion held a special service to commemorate the anniversary, led by current pastor Rene Brown.

Brown, who took over in 2007, says his goal is to uphold the legacy of the church and turn his young members into great leaders.

"Invest in your people," Brown said. "And you make sure that you have every generation present, and you give every generation a voice. And you help them feel a part of the congregation and you help them know what their value is."

White says that's all he wants too... a church that continues to have an impact on the city.

"I hope that the congregation and the pastor and all... that they will keep the church going as they have," White said.

Civil rights legends Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall also visited and worked with the church. They held a gala on Saturday evening before their special service on Sunday Morning.

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