Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest Black congregations in Orange County, North Carolina, dates back to its earliest existence around 1869 - shortly after the Civil War. An old school house located on the Martin Farm in Cedar Grove was used as its meeting place. But even earlier than this during the times of slavery, missionaries from the White Presbyterian Church used an old woodshed to teach Sunday School and hold prayer services for the slaves. This was done on Sundays after their own services were completed.
Between 1870 -1882, services were held on the John Hawkins, Dave Wright and Sam Dark farms. Reverend Wilson served as pastor in 1878. At this time the congregation was not under the AM.E. Church and was called Poplar Springs.
The name Poplar Springs was used until 1880, when emphasis was placed upon acquiring a larger place for worship. According to an old legal document, a one-acre tract of land was purchased from S. W. Hughes and his wife, Margaret J. Hughes, for the handsome sum of $10.00. This historical document is dated April 22, 1882. During the 1880's, Mt. Zion, Payne’ s Chapel, and White Cross became a circuit. Board meetings were held on the third Saturday and pastoral day was the third Sunday.
The first edifice was a small, wooden frame building with two rows of benches that were made by members of the congregation. The front of the church faced east on an old wagon trail road until the early 1900's when an unpaved dirt road was built -then called Highway 14, presently called Highway 86. When a new church was constructed facing the west, the older church was used as a parsonage until around 1928 when one was purchased in the town of Hillsborough.
In the early 1900's, Mt. Zion was part of the Hillsborough Circuit, along with Dickerson Chapel AM.E. Church in Hillsborough. Services were held on each first and third Sunday. We remained a part of this circuit until 1981. At this time we became a station and began to have services each Sunday.