The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board recently voted unanimously to approve the designation of Mt. Zion Baptist Church as a Seattle Landmark. With the designation, Mt. Zion joins the Space Needle, the Science Center and Key Arena as the only other officially designated Seattle Landmarks.
The features and characteristics of the property identified for preservation include: the site; the exteriors of the church building, educational unit, the Gideon Bell Tower, the interior of the sanctuary; the James Washington, Jr. sculpture “Oracle of Truth”; but exempts all
elements of the building and site that are liturgical in nature.
Mount Zion was organized in 1890, thirty-eight years after the establishment of Seattle as a city, ten years before the beginning of the 20th Century, and one year after Washington Territory became one of the United States by a small group of African Americans who migrated to Seattle in search of opportunities and a better life for their families.
Rev. Dr. W. D. Carter, the pastor of Mount Zion from 1912 – 1925, and the congregation built the first church at the 19th avenue location. Years later, Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney became pastor in 1958. Under his leadership, an educational wing was built in 1962 and a new church in 1975. The church has a uniquely Afrocentric structure that expresses the history of African and American faiths. African Heritage is seen in the structural design, from within and without of the church. Each element of the design and structure of the church was carefully orchestrated by the Rev. Dr. McKinney in conjunction with the Architectural Firm of Durham Anderson, and Freed.
During the Civil Rights Era, Mt. Zion, under the leadership of Rev. McKinney, became locally, regionally, and nationally known for its work in Civil Rights and outreach work due to its principles of self-help, the empowerment of people, and reinforcing the community spiritually, educationally, socially, and politically.
As a Christian Institution, Mt. Zion continues to proclaim the whole council of God by preaching and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to alleviate suffering and oppression in all areas of the human need.