Mount Zion United Methodist Church has been an important part
of upstate history since the early 1800's.
► The Early Church 1830
The first meeting place for Methodists in the Central area was a rough hand-hewn log building. It was called the Twelve Mile Meeting House and was located not far from Twelve Mile River, which is now called Ballentine Cemetery. This cemetery is about two miles north of Central on the left of Johnson Road leading to Norris.
A second log church was built around 1860 somewhere near what is now Mount Zion Cemetery on Highway 93 going out of Central toward Clemson. A woman who had been turned out of the church burned this log church. Rev. Robert Gaines rode to Columbia on behalf of the woman, pleaded on her behalf; and the governor pardoned her. Another log church replaced the one that had been burned.
► The Church of 1860
The first frame church was built around 1860. It was built on what was known as "the flat" (where the upward slope to Mount Zion Cemetery begins). The church was a rough weather-boarded structure, unceiled, once painted white on the outside, but unpainted on the inside. The seats were homemade with slabs across the back. An old-fashioned box pulpit sat at the front with steps down and a door at the side of the church. During this time frame, the Mount Zion Cemetery was begun.
By 1886, the wooden structure had become grey with age and the roof leaked. At times the congregation had to raise umbrellas inside the building to protect them from the rain. It is told, that one night during a revival, a terrible storm came up and rained poured in torrents. Someone suggested taking up a collection for a new church and it was done and plans were soon underway for a new Mount Zion. The site was up on the knoll (where the old cemetery ends and the new part begins). This building was dedicated in 1891 by Bishop W. W. Duncan who according to written accounts "stood in the door and preached to the crowd, too large to get inside."
► Mount Zion Established as a Separate Charge in 1911
The question of a new church had been considered for many years with talk of it starting in 1907. In 1919, a site for the new church was selected (where the present church sits today). Mr. Walter Gassaway, donated $50,000 towards building the new church. Members added enough to make the construction of the grey stone church possible. The stained glass windows are among the most elegant in the state. The present building was completed in 1922 and dedicated on October 7, 1923.
Since that date, the current sanctuary has been a landmark and place of worship for the area.