1958 - 1998
1963 Church Building
The social status of African Americans had changed significantly following the war and Mount Zion sought a minister capable of leading the church into the future. Reverend Samuel Berry McKinney (1958-1998), formerly of Olney Street Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, was recommended by the pulpit committee. His achievements are legendary.
Through Reverend McKinney's spiritual leadership, scholarly focus, and social and political activism, Mount Zion flourished. Church membership grew from 800 to 3,000.
In his first year as pastor, Reverend McKinney founded the Mount Zion Baptist Church Credit Union, the first Protestant credit union in the state of Washington, to provide the congregation and community with a member-owned and operated cooperative financial institution. With the help of his wife, Louise Jones McKinney, he organized a young married group. Reverend McKinney started the Prayer Band, taught theological classes on Baptist faith, initiated new members classes for children and youth who had joined the church, formed a Social Action Committee, held a monthly “Pew to Pulpit” hour to respond to parishioner concerns, established the Memorial Chapel Plan, strengthened the lay development program, built the educational unit of the church, conceived the unique design for the Afri-centric sanctuary, founded and served as President and CEO of the Seattle Opportunity Industrialization Center (SOIC) and on the directorial boards of many community organizations.
A focus on educational excellence was a hallmark of Reverend McKinney’s tenure. Church programs for youth expanded to include the Mount Zion Pre-School and Kindergarten, an accredited preschool and kindergarten. Mrs. McKinney, an educator, served as the first director. Later educational programs included the Ethnic School (later named the Louise Jones McKinney Learning Center), the Educational Excellence Program, the Youth Credit Union (Y-CUP; one of the country’s first youth credit unions), and a nationally recognized scholarship program.
Mount Zion created community partnerships with local churches. An evening service was initiated with First A.M.E. Church and a Parish Partnership was created with Plymouth Congregational Church.
Reverend McKinney constantly reminded church members that, like Christ, they must focus their personal ministerial efforts on society’s least, last, lost, locked up and left out through unconditional love, spiritual fortitude and political savvy.
1975 Church Building
Facility expansions during this forty-year ministry included the dedication of a $300,000 Education Unit that houses administrative offices (1963), the building of an $850,000 Africentric sanctuary (1975) and the 64 unit Samuel Berry McKinney Retirement Manor (1998).
Community economic development has been a significant component of Mount Zion’s ministry. The Northwest Baptist Federal Credit Union has granted loans in excess of $15,000,000 and has assets of nearly $5,000,000.
Reverend Dr. Samuel B. McKinney retired on April 26, 1998 and the church approved the appointment of Reverend Dr. Samuel Pinkston, Pastor Emeritus of the Antioch Baptist Church in San Jose, California, to serve as Interim Pastor. Dr. Pinkston, recommended by the Ministers-at-Large Program of the American Baptist Churches, USA, arrived in Seattle with his wife, Esther Miller Pinkston. For the large congregation, thirty ministers, and fifty ministries, they provided spiritual guidance and stability while the church sought a permanent pastor.
1999 - 2005
On May 24, 1999, the congregation voted to approve the selection of Reverend Dr. Leslie David Braxton, pastor of the First Shiloh Baptist Church of Buffalo, New York. Arriving with his wife, Sheila and two children, he delivered his first sermon on August 29, 1999.
Reverend Braxton started the Christian Education Academy, infusing the congregation with considerable excitement for Christian learning.
He began the Summer Fun program, a youth activities program and created a parish partnership with South London, South Africa. Reverend Braxton resigned in 2005 and started the New Beginnings Christian Center in Renton, Washington.
In August 2005, Reverend Dr. Samuel McKinney, Pastor Emeritus of Mount Zion Baptist Church, was unanimously voted out of retirement by the congregation to serve his former church the until a permanent pastor is called into service.