The Reverend Edward Wortham founded the St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church in 1925. The Church operated as a mission, in a canvas tent during the summer and at the home of Reverend Wortham during the cold winter months. This mission assumed the name of Union A.M.E. Zion Church and in 1927 a small frame building was started with some of the materials donated by local businesses. In 1928, the Union A.M.E. Zion Church obtained a charter from the denomination and would then become the St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church. In 1938, masonry work progressed slowly as the building’s exterior along with an expansion to the vestibule was completed in the 1940’s.
The 1950’s ushered in new improvements to the interior of the building. This was a compromise; as the congregation’s original goal was to build a completely new building. The building fund, which still exist today, was originated and grew slowly until 1965; when under the leadership of Reverend Pinder, the previous building was renovated. Later, two additional lots were acquired, and the church became incorporated. With these accomplishments, the drive was geared toward erecting a new and larger church building. The members placed their desire and trust in God for this goal.
In 1973, a mortgage committee was instituted under the presidency of Sister Rachael Gumbs to guide the membership in paying of the mortgage of the new St. Mark. Work, planning, and sacrifice continued through the years until on March 31, 1974 the groundbreaking ceremony for the present building was held.
The old building was demolished to make room for the new building. During the construction of the new building, services were held in the basement of the previous parsonage, which was next door. Many memorable services were held in those temporary quarters. Work progressed rapidly under the direction of Mr. Edward C. Erdmann, the general contractor and on September 8, 1974, the first service was held in the new building. The “new” St. Mark was officially completed and dedicated on June 22, 1975, under the leadership of the late Reverend Benjamin H. Henderson, Reverend William A. Blackwell, Presiding Elder and Reverend William M. Smith, Bishop.
The members of the St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church worked hard to realize this new church building. The building fund drives were a key resource and the hand of God made it possible. The fullness of loyal and dedicate members, such as Earle Gumbs, who was a good class leader and church Steward; Ephraim Hughes, Phillip Gumbs, and other members of the Trustee and Steward Boards who worked along with other members of the church.
In May 1995, we welcomed a new spiritual leader, Reverend Jesse L. Davis and his wife, Mrs. Winifred Davis. Under Reverend Davis’ leadership, the church continued to grow. It was during his tenure that plans for a new parsonage originated and numerous other projects to improve the interior and exterior of the church were undertaken during Rev. Davis’ tenure as well.
In June 2004, Reverend Dr. Thelma Gattis became our spiritual leader. The first project under her leadership was the replacement and upgrade of the church steps and other masonry projects. Plans were revived to build a parsonage, under her guidance, many planning sessions, hard work, and trust in God led to the ground breaking for the parsonage in November 2006. The parsonage was completed and dedicated on June 2, 2007 under the leadership of Reverend Dr. Thelma L. Gattis, Reverend Dr. Lawton Nelson, Jr. Presiding Elder and Reverend Nathaniel Jarret, Jr., Bishop.
In May 2016, Reverend Maurice Daniels became our spiritual leader. It is certainly a new day in the life of this church. Reverend Daniels comes to build on the work that has been cultivated through the years. Upon his arrival, Rev. Daniels’ indicated, “Our challenge is to make every effort and to take advantage of every opportunity to show an appreciation for God’s Amazing grace. For 91 years, God’s abundance of grace has been more than enough for our beloved church. God has brought us from ‘a tent to a temple’ reminding us that God’s presence has kept us and His manifestation will lead us in the days ahead. “He gives thanks for the work of every past pastor, minister and layperson for diligence and spiritual guidance.
Together, through the years, the men and women of St. Mark have constructed and maintained a church building that their parents worked for, and dreamed of building in the Cliffwood community. From a ‘Tent to a Temple’, the “Church with A Glad Heart and A Helping Hand” continues to strive to serve its people, the community and the Lord. Through the years, with the help of God and the cooperation of the people, we succeeded and will continue to put our trust in God, as we move forward as the church in Kingdom Building.
PASTORS OF ST. MARK A.M.E. ZION CHURCH, PAST AND PRESENT
- REV. WORTHAM: 1928 – 1931
- REV. BROWN: 1932 – 1934
- REV. MITCHELL: 1934 – 1935
- REV. WATSON: 1935 – 1936
- REV. MURPHY: 1936 – 1937
- REV. TAYLOR: 1937 – 1938
- REV. ROBERTS: 1938 – 1939
- REV. COBLE: 1939 – 1940
- REV. RAMSEY: 1940 – 1941
- REV. SIMMONS: 1942 – 1943
- REV. O. R. LYONS: 1944 – 1951
- REV. GOODE: 1955 – 1959
- REV. JAKE WILLIAMS: 1959 – 1961
- REV. CARLTON SMITH: 1960 – 1961
- REV. SMITH: 1961 – 1963
- REV. PENDER: 1964 – 1968
- REV. MOSS: 1968 – 1973
- REV. HENDERSON: 1973 – 1995
- REV. JESSE L. DAVIS: 1995 – 2004
- REV. THELMA GATTIS: 2004 – 2016
- REV. MAURICE DANIELS: 2016 – PRESENT
Romans 10:14-16 (KJV)
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!