BELTON, TX — After nearly 200 years, one would need a makeover.
The same goes for churches, which is why Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Belton is seeking some federal funding.
Mt. Zion Methodist Church is the oldest African American Methodist church in the state of Texas and it’s clear that it needs a pick me up.
With over $300,000 in federal grant money, upgrades to the building are what the pastor of the church and the Mayor of Belton believe would create a more appealing hub for the community.
The church sits on the brink of the Nolan Creek in Belton, it’s there you’ll find Pastor Rezolia Johnson preaching at the Methodist church, in a building that has seen over a century of changes.
“To have a church that fought for something like this to happen and for it to still be standing is a part of that narrative,” Pastor Rezolia Johnson said. “So the fight is a part of that narrative.”
That narrative being the story of the church’s roots. Planted from African descent, decades before the civil war.
Now, it’s in need of a serious makeover. The church is partnering with the city and together they are seeking a federal grant worth around $380,000, the pastor says.
The grant would go toward restoring the historical landmark.
“We don’t want to give up,” Wayne Carpenter, the mayor of Belton said. “We want to do everything we can to assist the congregation and the leadership of the church to do what’s needed to keep this building in a safe meeting order.”
However, the effort of completing the grant process is quite familiar for those involved as Mt. Zion applied for the same grant two years ago.
“We feel like it’s such a critical project for the folks here and for the entire community that we wanted to give it another try,” Mayor Carpenter said.
Repairing the roof, fixing foundation issues, adding a sprinkler system and beautifying the exterior are some of the things Pastor Johnson hopes to fix if they get the grant.
“We’ve come this far and it’s not to diminish or discount what happened but it lets you know that we’ve come a long way and that we’re in this together,” Pastor Johnson explained.
And while thankful the city is offering a helping hand, Pastor Johnson says the church’s beginnings are not to be covered up, but instead to be celebrated.
"The history of this church matters,” she said. “The history of what this church has done in this community matters. That narrative is going to be built in when we get this grant. I’m not even saying if. I’m saying when we get it.”
The grant application is due on December 15, 2020 and they’ll know if they’ll receive the money in the summer of 2021.
In the meantime, Pastor Johnson says if you’d like to help the cause you can donate by sending a check to 218 N. Alexander St., Belton, TX 76513.