Serving Kenly, Selma, Smithfield, Princeton & Pine Level since 1973

Historic Wilson church to mark 150 years

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St. John African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary with a variety of events this month. And parishioners hope the Wilson community will share with them in reaching the significant milestone of a church rich in history.

“The 150-year mark in any congregation is significant and a cause for celebration,” said the Rev. Charlrean B. Mapson of St. John AME Zion. “It is a time to reflect on what the church has accomplished and the members who have helped to achieve said accomplishments.”

Mapson, who was appointed to St. John last in October of last year, is the first female pastor in the church’s history.

“The celebration will be memorialized in our souvenir journal, a document that will hopefully be around for many years and generations to come,” she said.

The church, located at 119 Pender St. E., was founded in 1868.


Several special events will be held prior to the anniversary worship service on Sept. 23.

“St. John is a community supporting church and we have established several ecumenical relationships over the years,” Mapson said. “Therefore, it is important to us that we involve our friends in this once in a lifetime celebration.”


On Sunday, Sept. 16 at 3 p.m., St. John will feature youth groups and schools that received their genesis in the St. John Church, including Save-A-Youth, Sallie B. Howard, Mini Band and the Youth Enrichment Program. That program will consist of young people and individuals who participated in those programs in years past, Mapson said.

On Saturday, Sept. 22, at 3 p.m., the church will feature a play entitled “The Ties that Bind” — an account of the last 150 years of the church’s existence, written and directed by St. John church member Toshika Smith. Admission is free and the performance is open to the public.

On Sunday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m., the church will hold its anniversary worship service with city, county, state and other elected officials attending.

Mapson said through St. John’s food ministry and various other ministries, parishioners want the community to know that St. John “has been and continues to be a spiritual force in the Wilson community for 150 years.”

She said the church’s vision is simple — reaching others for Christ through members’ worship, work and walk.

“With that statement in mind and practice, we will each make one for Christ,” Mapson said.