In 1877, a group of ‘displaced people’ found a place on a wooded hill on top of the west side of Brenham, where they could feel free to sing, pray and give thanks.
Two years later these men and women found a way to build a church sanctuary, to ‘become a shelter from the storm’ and around it they built a settlement of Watersville, a place they called a temporary ‘Promised Land.’
By the mid-20th century much of that community had moved on but the church they built, Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, remained, albeit rebuilt after the first sanctuary was destroyed by a storm in 1920.
Today (Friday), a new Texas Historical Marker, was dedicated in front of the church at 500 High Street.
Church Historian Marjorie Bigsby says the church was entered into the National Register of Historic Places but now, after much work from Dr. Wilfred Dietrich and the Washington County Historical Commission, Mt. Zion received a state historical marker.
At Friday’s dedication ceremony, Dr, Weldon Williams III, a professor of African Studies for the City College of New York, recounted much of the church’s history and the place of churches in African American culture. He said African-American churches such as Mt. Zion symbolize not a people who were descendents of slaves but a people ‘ascending’ into a new plane of civilization.
The marker was unveiled after a medley of spirituals led by the Circuit Children’s Choir Group, who led the congregation out to the front of the church.