Ten years ago this month a church in the uppermost reach of Sampson County received the devastating news that one of the worst things that could have happened occurred — a fire had destroyed the church and everything in it. This church, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, chose to do what needed to be done and banded together with the community to become a church that has “Risen from the Ashes” just like the sign in their front entry states. In the front of the church is a display case which houses the burned remnants of the Bible that used to be on the pulpit, a few smokey hymnals, and other memorabilia of the church.
Their pastor, Pastor Floyd Ray, had only been there less than a year at this point, exactly 364 days to be exact, he said. The cause of the fire has never been determined, and despite having just completed some major renovations, the church decided that it would continue its mission and rebuild. The new church, which is over twice the size of the old one, has become something that the community has rallied around, according to Ray. The church, which was originally established in 1920, has been through a lot the last few years.
“When the fire happened, we ended up meeting people in the community we would have never met,” said Ray in an interview Tuesday. “The community came together and the citizens came together. We met people we would have never known.” He said that the area has really helped the congregation of this church come back together and make the new church a place that the whole area can utilize for functions, and not just those of the same denomination or background. The church also actively participates in the Midway Area Church Association (MAC), said Ray.
“The great community effort brought us back to where we are,” he shared. The mayor of Dunn even let the church stay in one of his buildings for three years while they figured out what their next steps were in God’s plan to get the church built back. Ray said that the church is planning a Black Tie Gala on Nov. 9 in order to celebrate the ten years of rebuilding the church and the Rays’ ministry in the church while also servig as a way to give back to the community.
Pastor Floyd and First Lady Shirley Ray have given over 10 years of service to ministry. The letter from the Black Tie Gala states that “it is for their dedication to the Lord and their commitment to their church, family, and community, that we respect and honor them.” On Nov. 9 the Black Tie Gala will celebrate the Pastor and First lady at the PFWB Tabernacle on the campus of the Heritage Bible College, located at 1107 Long Branch Road in Dunn, beginning at 5 p.m. First, there will be a reception followed by the Gala which will start at 6 p.m.
Opportunities to support the church and their event, which is being given to the benefit of the community, are available in a variety of ways including becoming a sponsor or contributor, purchasing ads in the program booklet, and purchasing a ticket to the Gala. To find out more about the Gala, please contact Ryan Ray at 910-890-1138 or Wanda Thomas at 919-749-2009. If you would like more information on the church, please contact Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church at 910-892-1254.