To pay tribute to the contributions made by public safety personnel, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church will hold its annual Law Enforcement and Firefighters Recognition program Sunday.
Implemented by the church’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Ed Rhodes, 10 years ago, the offering has expanded in scope. Initially recognizing law enforcement officers and firefighters in the Cartersville congregation, the program now honors all public safety members across the county.
“I spent 29 years in law enforcement,” Rhodes said. “I was in the Alaska State Police. After that I was police chief in Anchorage, Alaska, and I’m a 1980 graduate of the FBI National Academy.
“One of the reasons why [I believe this recognition program is important is there] always seems to have been distance between citizens and law enforcement officials, especially. But this kind of program brings them all together. We have a time of fellowship, a time of refreshments. And it also gives the different departments the opportunity to address their needs and their concerns and their different programs to the community.”
On Sunday, the service will begin at 11 a.m. at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist, 147 Jones St. Some of the highlights of the recognition program will be an address delivered by Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap, the presentation of certificates of appreciation to all attending departments and a candlelight ceremony in memory of law enforcement workers and firefighters who have perished in the line of duty over the past year. As in recent recognition programs, all elected officials and retired and active public safety personnel are welcome to attend.
“They’ve done it for several years since I’ve been the sheriff,” Millsap said. “And although I haven’t been able to attend all of them, I think it is a wonderful thing that they recognize public safety officers — law enforcement, fire, EMS. We don’t [usually] get any recognition and these guys are out here putting their life on the line every day. [So] it’s nice to be recognized. ... It’s really a great thing. We appreciate them for what they do for us.
“[During the service], I’m going to give my testimony, basically as to how I came to be sheriff of this county — that it was no doubt a blessing from God that I am the sheriff of this county.”
Initially worshipping under a bush arbor in 1863, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist celebrated its 150th anniversary in May. One of the most notable stories about the church’s history focuses on the preachings of its first pastor, the Rev. Jeffrey Milner.
According to www.mzmbchurch.com, “During the first year the Rev. Milner became pastor, one Sunday in July he preached to his congregation from this text, John 8:36. ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ Some of the slaves went home and told their master that Rev. Milner said they were going to be free.
“The white people who owned these slaves, on the following Monday morning had a gallows built, where the present depot now stands. They placed the hangman’s noose around Rev. Milner’s neck to hang him but before they tied the knot he preached so strong that many people wept. The mayor of Cassville, [Ga.] ordered the crew to cut him down and let him go and preach the word of God.”
Along with Milner and Rhodes, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist has been shepherded by the Revs. J.P. Gay, Timothy Smith, Humphrey Daniels, J.F. Bright, J.T. Latimore, T.B. Maddox, F.A. Harris, N.T. Thompson, J.C. Adams, George Washington Woodson, S.M. Bryant, M. Rufus Dinkins, Eugene H. Mitchell and Michel S.E. Caldwell.
For more information about Sunday’s service, call 770-386-7425 or visit www.mzmbchurch.com.