AMARILLO, TX - This weekend marks a major milestone for Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. The church turns 100.
Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church is the first and oldest African American church in the Panhandle.
Church clergy tell NewsChannel 10, this weekend's anniversary is not just a celebration for its church members, but the entire Amarillo community.
We're told several organizations, like the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, also known as the NAACP, were formed in the basement of the historic church. The church is also credited with helping start and sustain the civil rights movement in Amarillo.
"That's what we grab onto. We were raised to recognize the church. That's the foundation of our family's. The caboose of our culture is the church and since Mount Zion is the mother church, everybody recognizes it. So when someone wanted to do something, they looked at Mount Zion." said Pastor James L. Collins.
Pastor Collins also tells NewsChannel 10, the church is often called the mother church in Amarillo, because it helped form dozens of area black churches.
Currently, there are about 45 African American churches in the city.