A historic African American Methodist church has received grants to allow the owners to turn the original building into a museum that celebrates the church's impact locally.
Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of Montgomery, Alabama, was founded in 1866 to provide a sacred space for an African American community of believers who had only just escaped slavery. They would later build a church structure in 1899, which still stands today. While the congregation moved out of the original site in 1990, the assembly maintains the original site as a local annex.
The Christian Post reports that Mount Zion AME has received two $500,000 grants to allow the church to renovate the old building, now known as the Mount Zion AME Zion Church Memorial Annex, into a museum.
"A year from now, we will be in a position to begin to have a museum that celebrates the Christian impact that Mount Zion AME Zion Church has had on Montgomery, Alabama, since 1866," says Charles P. Everett IV, a member of Mount Zion AME who will be overseeing the renovations.
Everett IV told the Post that the museum would convey the "mighty moment of God and His provision for a church of people who were once enslaved." Mount Zion has run into a multitude of struggles over the years, from Reconstruction to Jim Crow. The church has also invested heavily in local activism, such as the trolley boycotts of the early 20th century.
In converting the annex into a museum, Everett hopes that people realize that "when we talk about Mount Zion and its history of civil rights, our roots run very deep to the soil of Montgomery."