Home Local News MTZ Charitable hosts luncheon highlighting capital campaign for new Family Life Center

MTZ Charitable hosts luncheon highlighting capital campaign for new Family Life Center

Mt. Zion Baptist Church is the largest African-American congregation in Madison. (Photo by Omar Waheed)

Mt. Zion Baptist Church opened its doors to the community to let them hear more about its latest project to expand facilities to meet growing community needs.

Mt. Zion, the largest African-American congregation in Madison, presented its current project on Wednesday afternoon to build a new Family Life Center after starkly outgrowing its capacity and the needs of the community. The project was envisioned back in the 1960s but there was a push to finally build it around 2008, but the state of the economy caused the expansion to take a back seat. Now debt-free with the mortgage paid off as of 2020, Mt. Zion Baptist Church is seeking funding from the community to build the new facilities.

“We’ve never solicited a community for any type of funding, because we’ve always been able to operate our programs and under the generosity of the members of our church,” said Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen, longtime pastor at Mt. Zion. “We’re seeing a greater impact that we’re desiring, but we need help from the community.”

The church has a long history in Madison stemming back almost 113 years, and moved to its current location in 1960. Its programs continued to grow in areas of health, academics, food insecurity, adult services, youth outreach and mentorship.

Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen

Mt. Zion started an independent non-profit entity to run the programs in 2021, MTZ Charitable Organization, but is now finding a lack of space to meet growing community needs. MTZ Charitable Organization hopes to be able to bolster its programs with the larger facility and fulfill its desire to meet the needs of the people.

The current programs are: the Academic Learning Center, which serves 25-30 children weekly; Behavioral Health Clinic, which helps 100 non-repeat clients monthly; Older Adult Services, which provides a space for 50-60 monthly seniors to socialize; Transforming & Reaching Our Youth, a summer program that visits the Juvenile Detention center twice a month; Food Pantry, utilized by 60 families per month; Mentorship Program, that matches 50 teens per month with mentors; and Health Services & Clinics visited by 200 people per quarter.

All programs are housed in the old portion of Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s old wing from the 1960s. The new family center would replace the old center and extend it out to the blue house at 2000 Bird St.,

With the new Family Life Center, MTZ Charitable Organization expects to reach five times more youth, four times more community members with its mental health services and three times more youth in its juvenile outreach program.

“The demand for help has never been greater and for us to serve this growing demand we need a facility that will allow us to house all of our programs and services in one location,” Rev. Allen said. “We need your help to sow seeds of hope, build bridges of compassion, and with God’s grace, to make this new facility our reality. It’s time for giving.”

Other goals are for a commercial kitchen to prepare more meals for the community and a walk-in cooler to stock more fresh produce for the food pantry service.

Around 40 community members came out to the reveal where a few expressed the need for Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s services. Carmen Porco, a longtime member of the church and named “Hometown Hero” in Madison in 2020, has donated $216,000 since 2020, according to Rev. Allen.

“This church knows how to risk itself for the betterment of other people, and if I was wealthier, if I had the money, I would underwrite this whole thing,” Porco said. “We have no future in this country when we continue to ignore communities of poverty, blame the oppressed people for being our problem and do not have the audacity to change the system. You are building on the legacy of what made me believe even though there are so many churches that lack moral courage.”

Porco touched on the sentiment of Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s push to reach the community more. The church has been trying to make its service more known to the community past the South Side that programs are for all, and with a larger space, it can work to achieve a better Madison for anybody in need.

The building project is currently in its silent fundraising phase with $3 million raised from community partners. It plans to push fundraising to the larger Madison community once it hits 70-80% of its goal but is still accepting donations now, Rev. Allen said.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church hopes to break ground on the new facility by Spring 2025.