According to www.mzmbchurch.com, “During the first year the Rev. Milner became pastor, one Sunday in July he preached to his congregation from this text, John 8:36. ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ Some of the slaves went home and told their master that Rev. Milner said they were going to be free.
“The white people who owned these slaves, on the following Monday morning had a gallows built, where the present depot now stands. They placed the hangman’s noose around Rev. Milner’s neck to hang him but before they tied the knot he preached so strong that many people wept. The mayor of Cassville, [Ga.] ordered the crew to cut him down and let him go and preach the word of God.”
Kicking off its 150th anniversary month, the church will host an “Old Fashion Day” program Sunday. After a program around 10 a.m. in downtown Cartersville’s Friendship Plaza, the site of Milner’s scheduled hanging, the congregation will walk back to Mount Zion — 147 Jones St. in Cartersville — to worship under the bush arbor and dine on the church grounds.
“Yes, it is [an exciting time for us],” said the Rev. Dr. Edward Rhodes, senior pastor for Mount Zion. “Two of the unique things about our church is in 150 years, it has only had  pastors and the church has never split.
“The church has just exercised their liberty to share the gospel and the good news and the inspiration of that came from the organizing pastor, [Rev.] Milner, who was about to be hanged for preaching the gospel. ... [Speaking] for myself and a couple of others who have followed him as pastors, [we have] certainly just built on that foundation. We have the liberty to share the gospel and we share it without any regard to race, creed or color.”
For Lynn Jones — a member of Mount Zion who is helping publicize the church’s 150th anniversary events — Sunday’s service in downtown Cartersville will be a reflective time for the congregation.
“It is to commemorate the first pastor of Mount Zion,” Jones said. “He really did [build our foundation] and let us know that the word of God should go forth and it should stand and we should follow it. So when you hear [his story], you’re like that’s exactly what happened? And you think about the harshness that was going on at the time.
“This was a really bad time but to understand that the people knew that the word of God would really cover a multitude of sins is a great thing. Our pastor is so great about reminding us of that particular story. We have a choir that is named after [Rev. Milner] within Mount Zion. So we’re reminded of that great history. And I think it’s going to be reflective, for especially a lot of our senior members who have actually gone through a lot of the struggles that I have to say people my age have never even thought about going through. So for them, it’s going to [mean] a lot and we’re just grateful.”
Along with Milner and Rhodes, Mount Zion has been shepherded by the Revs. J.P. Gay, Timothy Smith, Humphrey Daniels, J.F. Bright, J.T. Latimore, T.B. Maddox, F.A. Harris, N.T. Thompson, J.C. Adams, George Washington Woodson, S.M. Bryant, M. Rufus Dinkins, Eugene H. Mitchell and Michel S.E. Caldwell. Currently the church features about 850 members and offers a Sunday worship service at 11 a.m.
“What we really want everyone to do is just to join in the celebrations,” Jones said. “... But we also want everyone to actually get a grasp on our history. Knowing where we’ve come from to where we are now, I think is a marvel in itself.”
Other programs surrounding Mount Zion’s anniversary include May 11 — 150th Anniversary Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast at Cartersville Civic Center, featuring WSB-TV anchor Fred Blankenship and area pastors, $8 per ticket; May 12 — Mother’s Day at Mount Zion, 11 a.m.; May 14 — 150th Anniversary Hallelujah Prayer Meeting at 6 p.m. in Mount Zion’s sanctuary; May 18 — 150th Church Anniversary Banquet at Clarence Brown Conference Center at 6 p.m., costs $25 for adults and $12.50 for youth 12 and younger; and May 19 — 150th Church Anniversary service at 11 a.m.
For more information, contact Deacon Victor Morgan at 770-547-4025 or visit www.mzmbchurch.com.