Provided by Zion United Methodist Church
Zion United Methodist Church (UMC) will celebrate the church’s 100th anniversary in ministry on November 19th, 9 a.m. at Nevada Partners, 710 West Lake Mead Blvd., North Las Vegas, NV 89030. The celebration will continue at True Love Baptist Church, 3 p.m., 1941 North H Street, Las Vegas, NV 89106. Zion UMC is the oldest United Methodist Church in the Las Vegas Valley. Though its sanctuary recently burned to the ground, the people who are the heart and soul of the church carry on its ministry and its legacy.
Zion UMC’s 100-year history began in 1917, twelve years after Las Vegas, NV was founded. The comparatively few African-Americans living in the city worshipped with the congregation of First Methodist Church on Third and Bridger Streets before they initiated the move to establish their own church. Mrs. Mary Neetles and Mr. A.B. “Pop” Mitchell and others successfully petitioned Union Pacific Railroad to donate a parcel of land for a church site at the northeast corner of Second and Ogden Streets (now Casino Center and Ogden). A small frame building approximately 25 feet by 12 feet was erected and housed the first African-American congregation in Las Vegas until 1945.
Mrs. Neetles invited Rev. Bradford of Arizona to come and organize the group into a congregation, and he agreed, becoming the first pastor of the newly-organized, non-denominational, community church. From 1917 until 1940, the congregation was served on a part-time basis by ministers appointed to First Methodist Church by the Southern California-Arizona Conference of The United Methodist Church.
During this era, District Superintendent Baker and Rev. Floyd Gilbert were especially helpful to this newest member of the Las Vegas church community. Their efforts are worthy of special commendation. In 1940, Rev. Henry Cook was appointed to Zion, becoming the first black pastor and first full-time pastor, an appointment made possible with financial support from the Southern California-Arizona Conference. Rev. Cook served until 1945.
From its conception and a long line of clergy serving the church, Zion UMC has contributed to the community, from providing the first Day Care Center sponsored by a black church, to serving as a voice for social justice and creating a community garden for its neighborhood. Zion’s rich legacy is not contained within the walls at 2108 North Revere Street, its current location. It flows from one person to the next, one street to the next, and across cities and nations. This legacy began with Sis. Neetles and Bro. Mitchell and is still moving, as Zion moves to greatness.