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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

EAST MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH

EAST MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH

EAST MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH was the first AFRICAN AMERICAN church to hold services on EUCLID AVENUE. Known as the "Green Stone Church," it is a Cleveland landmark. Alexander Roberson, who came to Cleveland about 1890 from South Carolina, is credited with organizing the church. Finding no Baptist church in Cleveland's East End, Roberson organized in-home prayer group services. As membership grew Deacon Roberson and Rev. C. D. Holly, an associate minister of SHILOH BAPTIST CHURCH, organized the Baptist Mission in 1908 at the Wigwam (the East End Republican Club) at the corner of Cedar Avenue and East 100th Street. While Dr. Rev. Boston Prince, the pastor of Shiloh, served as the moderator, the mission relied on visiting ministers to conduct services. The mission secured the property of Rev. H. D. Wiggins on Frank Avenue and Colonial Court for the erection of a church edifice, worshipping a large tent on the grounds until the church building was completed in 1910. Rev. Holly was the first pastor (1908-10), succeeded by Rev. Hill (1910-11), Rev. J. E. Thompson (1911-14), and Rev. Washington Page (1914-16).

During the pastorate of Rev. Benjamin K. Smith (1916-25), East Mount Zion purchased the Cedar Avenue Baptist Church building at Cedar Avenue and East 103rd Street for $45,000 in April 1923. Under Rev. Dr. Ernest Hall (1925-39), the church was modernized, enlarged, and the mortgage paid off. In November 1955, during the pastorate of Rev. William M. Downs (1939-76), East Mount Zion moved into its present quarters, acquiring the EUCLID AVENUE CHRISTIAN CHURCH at Euclid Avenue and East 100th Street for $125,000. The congregation numbered over 1,500 and the mortgage was paid off in three years. In 1963, the church purchased a parking lot across Euclid Avenue for $55,000. Rev. A. Charles Bowie has served as the pastor of East Mount Zion since 1977, organizing the Administrative Council, composed of all church groups and auxiliaries. In 2003, Bowie unveiled a new addition to the church, the Educational Wing.

East Mount Zion has been actively involved in the community by sponsoring a wide range of outreach programs. Launched in 1982, the Lifeline Ministry has provided temporary food aid to families in need, supplying some 300 area families with a four-day supply of food once a month. The church sponsored the Health and Wellness Expo, which included a "Blueprint for Sexual Integrity" seminar for teens and young adults, as well as weight-loss and breast cancer programs and a wellness program. It also hosted the annual Women for Jesus conference. The ministries of East Mount Zion include Baptist Training Union, Youth, Evangelism, Outreach, Visitation, Music, Bus, and Teaching.


See also RELIGION and BAPTISTS.