Mount Zion United Methodist Church (formerly Mount Zion Methodist Episcopal Church) is the oldest black congregation in the District of Columbia. It was formed in 1816 when congregants from the Montgomery Street Methodist Church (now the Dumbarton Avenue United Methodist Church) in Georgetown decided not to accept racist treatment by their white fellow church-goers. The present church was completed in 1884. The cemetery comprises the Old Methodist Burying Ground, founded in 1809, and the Female Union Band Cemetery, founded in 1849. The Heritage House is the city's only remaining Old English style cottage. It houses the records of the church and offers changing exhibits.

By the late 18th century, the Methodist Church had circumscribed the ability of blacks to participate as fully as whites in the practice of Methodism. In response, seven members of Montgomery Street Church persuaded 125 others to leave and form their own church. Shadrack Nugent is considered the founder of the church. The group purchased land on 27th Street near P Street from Henry Foxall, a white Methodist and Georgetown resident. In 1823 Mount Zion opened a Sabbath School in order to teach reading, writing, and Christianity to children and adults.

A cemetery for Mount Zion members dates back to 1809 when the Montgomery Street Church purchased the lot for its burials. At that time blacks were approximately half of the congregation. One of the vaults located in the cemetery is believed to have been an important hiding place or stop on the Underground Railroad. In 1879 the Female Union Band Society, a mutual aid association of free black women formed in 1842, bought land in the adjacent lot, and the cemeteries were later merged.

The current church stands on land purchased from member and trustee Alfred Pope in 1875.


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