History of Mt. Zion
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
(Prepared for its 1984 Sesquicentennial)
by Annella Branch Reid
On the first day of August, 1834, the Rev. Andrew Bowers, a missionary of the Associate Reformed Synod of the West organized the first Associate Reformed congregation west of the Mississippi River, near Auburn, in Lincoln County, Missouri. The first session was constituted by singing a Psalm and prayer. The session consisted of Rev, Andrew Bower, moderator, and Alexander Reid, Sr., James Alexander, Sr., and James Finley, elders. Jane Reid, Martha Alexander, Mary Finley, Samuel Alexander, Anne Alexander, Jane Alexander, Matilda Reid, Alexander Reid, Jr., Jane Finley, Hadassah Finley, and Mary Steele Finley were the charter Members--fourteen in all. The last four recognized the baptismal vows of their parents and were received by examination. The others were received by certificate from the Associate Reformed congregation in Shelby County, Kentucky.
The first Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was observed on August 3rd, 1834.
The church building was located near Auburn and that fact gave the church name until 1843.
In 1841 the Auburn congregation withdrew from the Synod of the West and became connected with the Synod of the South. The church became a member of the Kentucky Presbytery.
The first Sabbath in July, 1843, is memorable for two events: It marks the change of the name of the congregation and the call of the first pastor, Rev. Samuel S. Ralston for one-half time. It was unanimously resolved that the church be known and designated by the name Mt Zion. Rev. Mr. Ralston accepted the call and began ministerial labors at Mt. Zion on the last Sabbath of November, 1843. Mt. Zion occupied one-half of his time, Buffalo in Pike County, one-fourth of his time, and he spent the other one-fourth doing missionary work in Callaway, Audrain, and Monroe counties.
The first building on the new location was a frame structure and in 1854 it was replaced by a brick building. The new brick church was dedicated to the service of the Most High God on the third Sabbath of May 1857.The pastor, Rev, S. S. Ralston conducted the service by the singing of the 122 Psalm, reading Solomon's Prayer at the dedication of the temple, and an appropriate sermon from Ezra 7:23.
Rev. S. S. Ralston was born near Nashville Tennessee, on May 11,1809. He attended schools in Tennessee until 1836 when he went to Due West, South Carolina, to attend the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, being the first student to enter this Seminary. He completed his course and was licensed by the Second Associate Reformed Presbytery on May 6, 1837, and was ordained by the Tennessee Associate Reformed Presbytery in June, 1838.
May 20, 1900 marks the date of regular collections being taken. Before this time, it was the custom to announce when a collection would be taken and state the purpose for which it was needed. At this time, it was agreed that a collection be taken every third Sabbath.
The first meeting of Synod held at Mt. Zion was in October, 1873. The next meeting of Synod held at Mt. Zion was in October, 1904. There was a full delegation present. Since it was the year of the World's Fare in St. Louis, travel rates were reduced, and many people could afford to come to Synod who otherwise would have been unable to attend. Rev. D. R. Pressly was minister at Mt. Zion.
The first meeting of the Kentucky Presbytery was held at Mt. Zion in May 1845. Mt. Zion has entertained Presbytery a number of times, but because of the distance from the center of the activities of the main body of the church, probably not as often as might have been desired.
One of the most important events in the history of the Mt. Zion Church was the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the church. Plans had been made for this great event for a number of months. Rev. Charles E. Edwards was pastor. An invitation was extended to all ministers who had previously held pastorates at Mt. Zion to attend the celebration. Because of the distance, only the following accepted and were present for the occasion: Rev. R. L. Grier and family of Mayesville, South Carolina; Rev. Joseph L. Grier and family from Louisville, Kentucky; and Rev. R. N. Hunter and family of Cotton Plant, Mississippi. Many sent greetings which were read by Rev. R. L. Grier. The sermon was given by Rev. Joseph L. Grier.
The most noted revival in the history of the congregation was conducted Rev. W. W. Orr in November, 1896, when forty persons united with the church.
On May 17, 1964, the Mt. Zion congregation met and voted to build a new church instead of remodeling the old church. The new building was erected about a quarter of a mile from the old church on Highway V. On August 15, 1965 the new church was dedicated to the glory of God. Rev. James A Cannon, a former pastor delivered the dedicatory sermon.
Elders at this time are C. Tilden Ransdell, Karl W. Shannon, Louis E. Houston, Myron H. Scott, and B. Ben Houston. The present enrollment is sixty-three.
Rev. W. N. Falls, a former pastor, is now serving Mt. Zion as interim pastor. We are pleased to have him and his wife, the former Mable Finley, a daughter of the congregation, back with us. Through the years Mt. Zion has had many dedicated men who have served diligently, proclaiming God's Word.
As we look back through the past 150 years of the history of Mt. Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, we feel great pride in our heritage and with heartfelt hope and confidence we look forward to the future, knowing that Christ has said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18.
|Rev. Samuel S. Ralston, D.D.||1843-1860|
|Rev. Frank Y. Pressly, D.D.||1882-1886|
|Rev. Boyce H. Grier||1889-1894|
|Rev. William S. Castles||1896-1897|
|Rev. Ralph N. Hunter||1911-1916|
|Rev. James H. Snell||1916-1917|
|Rev. Joseph L. Grier, D.D.||1919-1923|
|Rev. William C. Halliday, D.D.||1925-1926|
|Rev. Law P. Knox||1926-1928|
|Rev. Frank B. Edwards, D.D.||1931-1934|
|Rev. Charles E. Edwards, D.D.||1934-1937|
|Rev. J. Calvin Smith, D.D.||1937-1941|
|Rev. W. Nale Falls||1941-1946|
|Rev. Jessie B. McFerrin, D.D.||1949-1954|
|Rev. James A. Cannon||1956-1958|
|Rev. Zeb C. Williams||1960-1962|
|Rev. F. Rhett Sanders||1963-1965|
|Rev. Conrad E. Cheatham||1966-1973|
|Rev. Wayne E. Stanchfield||1975-1976|
|Rev. James Coad III||1977-1982|
|Rev. Tom E. Braithwaite||1982-1983|
Over the years Mt. Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church has had supply ministers from the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Seminary, Due West, South Carolina; Xenia Theological Seminary, St. Louis; and Covenant Seminary; St. Louis.
Note: Photographs are from the family archives of Russell M. Reid, Louisville, KY.
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