MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — This year marks a significant milestone for a historic church in our area. Big Zion A.M.E. Zion Church has influenced the Methodist community in Mobile since its founding 180 years ago.

The church’s original name was “Little Zion,” its first congregation began in 1842. Big Zion played a crucial role in the civil rights movement here in Mobile and in the integration of the city. 

Many Mobile legends are among those who sat in the pews of this church including John L. Leflore and Bishop Milton Smith, who both have schools named in their honor.

Isaiah Pinkney, a 90-year-old third generation member, was baptized at Big Zion when he was a young child. He says it is a good feeling to know that the history of Big Zion is still being remembered.  

“We can reminisce and think about the fact that we stand on the shoulders of great ancestors who went through a lot of sacrifices to leave us this edifice and we’re still striving to maintain it,” said Pinkney, a lifetime member.

In the 1860s, the ordination of the first Black pastor by a Black bishop in Alabama took place in the church’s current location on South Bayou Street. Back in those days the church building was merely a wooden shed.

Titus Thorn became pastor of Big Zion earlier this year. He says it is a great honor to be able to see the church’s legacy live on more than a century later.

“To be able to say the fact that slaves our four mothers and four fathers took what little they had to be able to create this beautiful edifice that we worship in on every Sunday,” said Thorn. “It has a lot of rich history and you’re just appreciative of it.”

Looking beyond its 180 years, Big Zion looks forward to the future by expanding their neighborhood outreach and launching their enrichment community development program next year. 

The church invites everyone to join them in celebrating their 180 years of ministry and service this Sunday, Sept. 25, at 3 p.m.