Out of the ruins came a new Mt Zion AME

  • Reverend Jahkimmo Smith and the congregation of Mt Zion AME Church will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its new building on February 16 (Photograph supplied)

Mt Zion AME Church will celebrate an important milestone in their history on Tuesday.

February 11 marks 30 years since its congregation moved into the current building.

Initially located right next door, the original church was demolished as a result of Hurricane Emily, which caught the entire island off guard in 1987.

Reverend Samuel Hayward, the pastor of Mt Zion at the time, woke to find the building in complete ruin.

As the story goes, the only thing still standing was the pulpit.

This unfortunate circumstance led the congregation and wider community to rally together to build a new facility — which the congregation still worships in today.

Reverend Jahkimmo Smith, the current pastor, shared how the church will commemorate the anniversary next week Sunday.

“Part of what we want to do for the 30th anniversary celebration of worshipping in this particular space is that we want to, one, celebrate what God has allowed this community of faith to do, but also, we want to remember and celebrate all those persons who participated in the rebuilding.”

The celebration will include a march from the Emmanuel Methodist Church on Middle Road, Southampton up to Mt Zion on Whale Bay Road.

This is a re-enactment of what took place in 1990 when the members of Mt Zion went to worship in their new building for the first time after three years of temporarily worshipping a short distance away at Emmanuel Methodist.

After the march, a service will be held in the “new” sanctuary where Reverend Trevor Woolridge, former pastor of Mt Zion, will address the congregation.

Walter Brangman, Sinclair Richards, Donald Wellman and Albert Bean are among the people who will be honoured for giving their time and talent towards the new build.

“It’s really just a celebration of our history as we move towards the future God has called us to,” Mr Smith said. “We want to give thanks to God for what He merged out of the aftermath of Hurricane Emily.

“It just proves again that truly, out of hardship, God can turn things around.

“And it’s not just about remembering our past. Because as we look at our past it gives us encouragement to look forward to what is possible in the future for this congregation. The best is still yet to come.”

Mr Smith has been leading Mt Zion as pastor since 2009, with his wife Reverend Lashonna Smith at his side.

He is grateful for the journey with Mt Zion so far and is excited for the journey ahead.

“We strive to bring the kind of atmosphere where you can be safe. That is very important for me.

“No matter where you are on your life journey, you are welcome here. My wife and I are in our tenth year of service at Mt Zion and we are enjoying it!

“We look forward to what God will continue to do.”

There are several opportunities for people to worship or study with Mt Zion.

Aside from their regular Sunday service, Mr Smith hosts Bible studies on Wednesdays at 12pm at Mt Zion as well as Thursdays in the city at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

He also hosts an online Bible study on Wednesdays from 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

“We say every Sunday that Mt Zion is the best place to be and it is a place where you will be welcomed and loved. It is part of our mission to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a safe and loving environment.

“We are absolutely convinced that God is not through with us yet. We still have lives to touch.

“As long as we are here, we will continue to welcome, witness and worship.”

All are welcome to join Mt Zion AME Church’s 30th anniversary celebrations on February 16. Members and friends will march from Emmanuel Methodist Church at 2.45pm. A celebration service will follow. For more information about Mt Zion: