100 years of prayer

Community members celebrate
a cornerstone of Hallsville history
Monday, September 8, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:36 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

HALLSVILLE — Elected officials and local residents crowded into the historic one-room Mount Zion Church on Sunday to celebrate the church’s 100th anniversary.

The special service, which began at 10:30 a.m., was followed by a pot-luck lunch where church members looked optimistically toward the building’s next 100 years.

Frances Riggs, 82, was one of 100 people who participated in Sunday’s celebration. Riggs said she has been attending Mount Zion for as long as she can remember. The church’s milestone was particularly poignant for her because Mount Zion had meant so much to her mother, she said.

Hallsville Mayor Carl South and two Boone County commissioners, Skip Elkin and Karen Miller, presented the congregation a proclamation commending them on their past 100 years. The proclamation will be added to the framed certificates and old newspaper articles that adorn the church’s walls and document its rich history.

Mount Zion Methodist Church was built in 1848. During the Civil War in 1863, Union forces burned down the building. It wasn’t rebuilt until 1867. In 1903, the church once again was torn down and rebuilt, this time to accommodate its growing membership.

However, attendance began to decline during the depression and continued to do so until 1977, when the congregation was forced to close after the Methodist Conference did not send a pastor.

The building was left to the Mount Zion Cemetery Association in 1981. Later that year, members of the community decided to restore the church. The renovations were completed in September 1982, and the building reopened as a nondenominational church that month.

In September 1998, the building was recognized as a historic site by the Boone County Historical Society. About 25 to 30 people attend Mount Zion each Sunday.

Stacy Doerge, who leads Mount Zion’s youth night every Tuesday, said children are crucial to expanding the church’s role in the community.

“They’re our future and what’s going to be here in generations to come,” she said.

During Sunday’s service, the youth night participants delivered a presentation on the meaning of a church. They also are working on completing a scrapbook for the church.

Mount Zion is also trying to extend its reach beyond Hallsville. In August, the church worked with local businesses and organizations to host a Back to School Fling, which collected school supplies for more than 100 area children.

People from Hallsville and the surrounding communities were invited to participate in the event.

The Rev. Gary Kivett, who has led worship at Mount Zion for almost two years, said he would like to see the church expand.

“The bigger you are, the more you can do for the community,” he said.

Kivett said Sunday’s service was a way to celebrate the past and look to the future.

“I see today as a turning point,” he said. “It’s exciting to know we’re starting into the next hundred years.”

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