The Early Story
In 1960 under the leadership of Pastor C. D. Henry, then the pastor of Mt. Sinai S.D.A church, six laymen were empowered to the task of passing out tracts and giving bible studies in the city of Kissimmee. These men devoted the next 3 years bringing light to the area. The following men undertook the call; Jimmy Sankey, L.C. Casey, Edward Sparks, Bryant Tinsley, Roosevelt Woolfork and Ruben Simmons.
It was 1966 before the efforts of these laymen came to fruition. Six years of preparing for the ultimate clincher.
A crusade was held, the speaker C. D Henry. The effort lasted for 4 weeks. Nine souls surrendered to the call, accepted the message, and were baptized. These precious souls were V Phillips, Ruby Owens, Cora Truesdale, Doris Smith, Ruby Nell Owens, D. Phillips, Linda Phillips and Louise Owens.
For the next 3 years this work met with some difficulty. By 1969 the trail became cold. It would not be until 1974 when these laymen attempted to warm- up the cold trail with vigor and vitality. A command was given as these men of God accepted the challenge, rallied together to bring once again "light to a dark City". In February '74 they began with Bible studies and by March they were able to rent Friendship Freewill Baptist Church. The intent was to bring about more cohesiveness to the Lay Effort. Prayer meeting and Sunday night services were added at that time. With the additional services the lay Effort again proved to be fruitful as 6 more souls were baptized.
A Business meeting was held on September 8, 1974, and a decision was made to start a church. As these Lay Evangelists worked, the Holy Spirit was able to perform miracles that transformed the lives of both the laymen and the members.
By July 5, 1975 the first Sabbath day services were held. The church was then known as "The Kissimmee S.D.A. Church". The Lord blessed and new converts were added in quick succession. The Lay Effort continued and Pastor Ralph Franklin came and was now the new shepherd.
On January of 1979 the Kissimmee Church purchased two acres of land, on which we dwell presently, at a cost of $11,600.00. That same year on November 18,1979, under the leadership of District Pastor 0. H Paul, the Kissimmee Church with its 35 members was officially organized and accepted into the Sisterhood of churches in the South Atlantic Conference. It was the 119th church added to this conference. Pastor Paul recognized Elder L. C Casey, and his assistants as the fire behind the force that brought this layman's project to completion.
Mt. Zion SDA
On February 16, 1985 the church was dedicated bearing a new name The Mt. Zion Seventh-Dav-Adventist Church (the idea of Marvin Blackman). Pastor Cleveland Mair was the first official pastor. Many good men of God would continue the work in this part of the vineyard. Since the groundwork had been laid, the membership has been growing and a quest to continue the work was now the challenge. Through the years the following pastors were sent to nourish and guide our church to where it is today, Pastor R . C Parham, who served at two separate times, the late Pastor Robert Patterson, Pastor Eddie Hall, Pastor Olinto Groce, Pastor Tony Taylor, Pastor Maxwell Berkel, Pastor Lewis Edwards, Pastor Alex Williams and presently Pastor Ron Smith II who joined us in December 2022. Each one has played a significant part in our history and progress.
In the 1990’s a new idea was born during Pastor Parham’s 2nd term with us. We needed a Community Center/gym. It started out as an expansion of the existing church (an idea proposed by Rodney Durand). It was decided that we would soon outgrow that building, so the decision was made to go big. The new Multi-purpose building was finally completed with a few challenges and dedicated in the year 2000 under the leadership of Pastor Olinto Groce. Pastor and members chipped in to do a lot of the finishing work like painting, stucco & tiling etc.
In February 2003, under the leadership of Pastor Taylor, a new roof was installed on the existing sanctuary.
Then, who can forget 2004. We suffered through 3 major storms in the summer (Charley, Frances & Jeanne). Pastor and some members spent days sheltering in the Multi-purpose building. The church suffered some damage, but thank God, no loss of life.
Pastor Berkel arrived in 2006 and many additions took place. In 2007 we borrowed $400,000 from SURFwith which we purchased an additional 1.75 acres of land for parking and recreation needs. We outgrew the sanctuary & starting worshipping in the Multi-purpose building during this time.
The old sanctuary was converted into a Youth Chapel for activities and recreation.
Pastor Berkel also moved us into the technological age. His favorite phrase was “Catch the Vision.” And his vision was big. In addition to purchasing the land, we also purchased video & audio equipment, which we still use today, chairs for the building, a Hammond organ, a new church sign, lawn equipment & also a fence for the entire property.
Dr. Lewis Edwards became our Pastor in 2012. His first project was to purchase 300 chairs for our Multi-purpose building. The church rallied to the cause and raised the $15,000 that was needed.
The youth approached Pastor in October 2016 about having a Youth Sabbath each month. Pastor agreed and since then, each 2nd Sabbath has been Youth Sabbath called “Reset”. It has been a great success & blessing to the church.
When Pastor Edwards arrived, our mortgage balance was approximately $362,000. He came up with an aggressive plan to liquidate the mortgage. In addition to our regular mortgage payment, we also started a 365 Club ($1 per day) & added that payment to quickly liquidate the mortgage. In 2018, we were informed by the Southeastern Conference that if we brought the mortgage balance down to $30,000, they would pay off the balance. We went into over-drive. The church rallied to the cause.
Praise God, we realized that goal in October 2018. To God be the glory.
In February 2019, Pastor Lewis was transferred to a new district. Between March & August 2019, the elders managed the ship of Zion until Pastor Alex Williams arrived in early August. Soon after his arrival Covid-19 interrupted regular church activities. Most churches went into lockdown, but thanks to the faithfulness of our Pastor, musicians, Praise Teams & Technology team, Mount Zion was open every week to minister to our at home members. We baptized many new members during this time despite the pandemic.
In October 2022, Pastor Williams was re-assigned to a new district. On December 10th, Pastor Ron Smith II was installed as our new Pastor.
In our short history, Mt. Zion has been blessed with pastors who love evangelism. In 1997, the need arose for a congregation in Poinciana, so "The Poinciana S.D.A Church" was born. More recently we added "The South Lake S.D.A. Company” in 2010. We also had a first in our area. A revival in the summer of 2014 sponsored by the Southeastern Conference, Florida Conference and Florida Hospital. The location was Osceola High School. The speaker was Dr. Dennis Ross. It was an awesome event, with participation from Poinciana SDA, Kissimmee SDA & the local Spanish Church. Sermons were in English with Spanish translation on hand. 49 souls were baptized.
Our membership has grown to over 350 precious souls. Diverse cultures have nestled in our harbor and the dream to carry this message far and wide is still our burden today. We have a rich heritage here at Mt.Zion that should be nurtured and cultivated. The awesome responsibility to finish the work that was started so long ago is a challenge that our church has accepted and has answered the call. Our goal is reflected in our motto “Sharing Hope and the Everlasting Gospel.”.
We look forward to a bright future at Mt. Zion, where we can put even more resources into finishing the work of the Gospel.