Location Information
(for the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church)
Name:Mt. Zion United Methodist Church
Address:11191 Road 747
City/County:Philadelphia vic., Neshoba County
Architectural Information
Construction Date:1966
Registration Information
NR Listing Date:13 Jul 2018
View National Register Nomination Form
Mt. Zion Methodist Church is nationally significant for its association with Social History and Ethnic Heritage: Black for the role it played in the summer of 1964, when white supremacists burned the church with the intent of attracting civil rights workers to Neshoba County, and subsequently murdered the three men who arrived to investigate. The killing of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman was a signal event in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement and Mt. Zion Methodist Church remains as one of the most important sites associated with the events of the summer of 1964.

The Mt. Zion congregation rebuilt their church on the same site in 1966 (with repairs in 1971 after a non-arson fire) and it stands a symbol of the response to the violence of those who opposed freedom and equality for all people. Even before the completion of the new church building, Mt. Zion Methodist Church began a yearly memorial honoring Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman and others who gave their lives in the struggle. The rebuilt church is locally significant in the context of the rebuilding period for African American churches across the South after arson fires burned their previous sanctuaries. Concentrated in the 1960s, the rebuilding period stretches to about 1980, as congregations made a statement by rebuilding on their historic property in building programs that often took several years or even decades to complete and often involved funding from philanthropic organizations.

The church and its site (including the adjacent cemetery) were listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 13 July 2018, at the statewide level of significance. (The original nomination for national level significance was downgraded by the National Register office in a Supplementary Listing Record [SLR], see nomination). In its "Mississippi Civil Rights Sites Special Resource Study" (2022), the National Park Service determined the church site (but not the church building itself) to be NHL-eligible as a contributing element in a discontiguous district related to the 1964 Freedom Summer Sites.