Our Church History

On Sunday, March 1, 1998, Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church was established under the guidance and direction of Presiding Elder Goodwin Douglas. Approximately 20 pastors and preachers took their place in the pulpit supporting this glorious occasion.  Over 250 families, friends, co-workers and visitors gathered at Waugh Chapel Elementary School in Odenton, Maryland in joyful praise and thanksgiving for the birth of a new A.M.E. Church in West Anne Arundel County.

Reverend Betty M. Smith preached her first sermon as pastor entitled “Launching Out” (Luke 5:4-10).  Our vision in launching out in this community is “to become fishers of men, women and children”, drawing them in and introducing them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  Mount Zion exists to minister to the spiritual; physical emotional and social needs of this community.  When the Invitation to Christian Discipleship was extended, two persons joined:  Shelly Gross-Wade and Adelle Galloway. Thus, Mount Zion A.M.E. Church was born.

On April 26, 1998, Reverend Smith received her first pastoral appointment to Mount Zion from Bishop Vinton R. Anderson.  From the very first steps we took as a new congregation, God has faithfully kept His promises to us “for the Lord hath chosen Zion:  He hath desired it for His habitation” (Psalm 132:13).  After three months at the elementary school, the church moved to 8279 Piney Orchard Parkway.  Everything that we stood in need of, God supplied it by the time we held our first worship service in our new facility on June 7, 1998.  During our first year God blessed us with members who were committed, gifted and talented and had a mind to work.  We were able to establish a Bible Study, Church School, Steward Board, Trustee Board, Thanksgiving and Christmas Sharing Programs.

As the church began to grow, we experienced both blessings and challenges but were confident of God’s promise that “he who has begun a good work in you will carry it to completion.”  In the year 2000, we put forth a valiant effort to secure financing for a church building.  However, we were sadly disappointed that we were not able to purchase the church.  We gathered our strength and moved forward with renewed faith that God would indeed bless us with a building in His time.  In May 2003, the Lord led us to a building at 1424 Odenton Road.  We held our first worship service in that facility on August 31, 2003.  We continued to be thankful for the faithfulness of the members.  God strengthened us and let us know that we are not alone on this journey. He knows the plans that he as for us and we depend on Him for every blessing and challenge ahead of us.  

On Saturday, April 16, 2005, at the 55th Session of the Washington Annual Conference, Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr. appointed Reverend Etoria V. Goggins Pastor to Mount Zion.  Within the first year of her appointment, God blessed the church to move into our current facility located at 911 Reece Road in Severn, Maryland. Although success is not measured solely in numbers, growth is an indication that an entity is, indeed, alive. With the combination of excellence in leadership, Rev. Goggins’ dynamic preaching and teaching style, Mt. Zion continues to grow and move forward in service to God and man.  We are confident that this is only the beginning of something greater to come.

On Friday, April 22,2016, at the 66th Session of the Washington Annual Conference, Reverend Dr. Valdes J. Snipes-Bennett became the newly appointed Senior Pastor of "The Mount" . Dr. Snipes-Bennett served as Senior Pastor of Cornerstone AME Church of LaPlata, MD from April 2012.-2016.  She is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She accepted her call to the ministry in 2005 at Hemingway Memorial AME Church under the Pastoral leadership of Rev. Dr. Samuel E. Hayward, III.  Prior to her call to the ordained ministry she served in many lay leadership positions and served 10 years as Church Administrator of Hemingway Memorial under the leadership of Rev. Dr. William R. Porter.  Rev. Dr. Bennett served as the Washington Conference Women in Ministry (WIM) Caucus Leader for the Capital District (2010-14) and currently serves as the Executive/District Administrator to the Episcopal Leadership and to the Second Episcopal District.

Dr. Bennett holds degrees and certificates in the following: BA degree in Gerontology, High Point University; Certificates in Gerontology from Livingston College and North Carolina A & T University; Master Public Administration (MPA) specializing in Gerontology and Counseling. North Carolina Central University; PhD in Organization and Management, specializing in Leadership, Capella University; Master in Divinity (MDiv) from Howard University School of Divinity. She was awarded the Dean’s Award (academic excellence) for being one of three highest ranking graduates while attending Howard University Divinity School, for two years she received the Trustee’s scholarship and was inducted into an International Honor Society.

Dr. Bennett has 27 years working in the field of Aging, intergenerational programs, leadership and management. Over the years, she has held leadership and executive management positions, managing program budgets up to 50 million.  She was Director of Employment Program with United Services for Older Adults; Program Officer/Training Coordinator and Director of Senior Community Service Employment (SEE) Program with Senior Service America (SSAI) and Deputy Director of Workforce Development and Initiatives with the National Council on Aging (NCOA).  She has traveled extensively across the US advocating for older adults and training professionals in leadership, working in the fields of aging, employment and training.

Dr. Bennett is currently Founder/CEO of Sed-Lav, Inc. Management and Administrative Support services, Vice-President and COO of Bent’ler Enterprises, a small business specializing in government contracting:  transportation, solid waste management, and logistical and facility management.  She has served as Editor of several books.

Dr. Bennett is married to Mr. Carl Robert Bennett and they have a son, Carlton.

Dr. Bennett loves the Lord.  She is committed to uplifting and motivating people.  She has been called to help individuals recognize their God-given potential and empower them to use their talents and gifts to the fullest in building and equipping God’s kingdom. Dr. Bennett is a leader, change agent, and administrator who is faithful, committed, and dedicated to her Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Her favorite scriptures are: Psalm 34:1-“I will bless the Lord at all times, His praises shall continually be in my month” and Philippians 4:13-“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”