150th Church Anniversary - October 2017
Vacation Bible School - June 19-23.
                                            

Our History

 

Let Mount Zion Rejoice!

Baptists in the Charlottesville area worshipped in the County Courthouse (1820-1831) before a brick building was constructed around 1864, First Baptist on the corner of 2nd and East Jefferson streets. In this church, although never regarded as equals in faith, the African American contingent of the Baptists worshipped with their white counterparts.  

In 1832, Virginia passed a law that prohibited blacks to worship without a white minister present. They were not allowed to worship with the rest of the white community. The African American community, who were already suffering under slavery, had more injustices to endure. While blacks were discontent, it would take thirty years before they acted.

 

In 1863, the 800 African American members of the Charlottesville Baptist Church petitioned for, and were granted, approval to separate from the church and form their own congregations. From this group, two congregations were formed: The Delevan (First) Baptist Church in 1864 (that lot was the front eastern portion of the present church lot) and the Mt. Zion Baptist Church 1867.

 

Since some African American members were still disgruntled about the mandate for a white minister to be present, the Mt. Zion congregation had contracted to purchase before buying the old Delevan Hotel. Thus, Mt. Zion First African Baptist church was organized.

Our first pastor was nicknamed the "horseback preacher" - the Reverend Spottswood Jones. He was the first African American preacher to shepherd his congregation in Charlottesville! He served until approximately 1871. It is evident that he did his job well because we are still building upon the foundation laid by him.