In May 1890, our church was born. The town of Chula wouldn’t be established until 1904. The founding church members were CT Anderson, JJ Sumner, EB Stinson, SM Self, WH Horn, James Paul, and RD Sinclair. The first pastor was JB Arrington. Our church was originally called “Mt Zion Church” or “The Church of Christ at Mt Zion”.
The Early Days
After three different pastors served Mt Zion, it was voted in 1901 to start calling a different preacher every year. This was a common practice of rural churches at that time. Wiley Pipkin was called. Sometimes the preacher that was called was the same as the year before, as Pipkin served until 1908. Pipkin remained part of the church until he died in 1910.
In 1917, the church building was added onto and the work was done by community labor rather than hiring help.
In 1922, Chula Baptist Church (First Baptist Chula) began with 23 charter members. 10 of those 23 were people that moved from Mt Zion to help Chula Baptist get started.
In the early days of Mt Zion, there were only worship services one weekend a month. The church would meet the second Saturday and Sunday of each month. In 1924, services were expanded to the second and fourth Saturday and Sunday of each month.
Our church began Sunday School on December 9, 1928. Sunday School classes met outside under a shade tree or in someone’s car. If it was raining, all classes met in the sanctuary. There was one adult class, one class for unmarried young people, and one children’s class.
In 1948, the current sanctuary was built. In 1951, the church had its first Vacation Bible School. A 4 room Sunday School building was built in October 1953. This building serves today as the office and pastor’s study.
Finally in 1955, the church began to have worship every Sunday. And around this time, the church voted to call pastors indefinitely instead of every year.
In 1960, the pastorium was built and for decades, the pastor lived there. Today, it is used for youth group meetings. In the 60s and 70s, many of the present day functions of the church took shape.
In August 1986, Larry Layfield was called as pastor. He served until 1998 and resigned. Mark Sickling served as pastor from 1999 to 2002 and Layfield returned to pastor from 2003 until he retired in 2018, making him the longest tenured pastor of the church by several years.
During the ministry of Layfield, the church became what it is today. The church participated in mission trips to West Virginia, South Carolina, and Kentucky. Mt Zion built a Family Life Center in the 2000s and began to work with many of the Georgia Baptist Ministries still in existence, including the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home.
In 2019, Aaron Frasier was called as pastor and is presently serving. Mt Zion looks ahead to the future of what Jesus Christ will do as He works in us and through us to make the Gospel known in Tift County and beyond.