Mt. Zion Baptist Church Announces its
Faith Forged Under Fire
|As a patrol and supply specialist for the U.S. Army, Allen
was deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan from
By Jonathan Gramling
For the past year and a half, Reverend Dr. Leonard Thompson, Sr. has faithfully
served as the interim pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in South Madison as the
congregation searched for a new pastor. As a condition of being the interim
pastor, it was agreed that Thompson would not be considered for the permanent
position. Thompson’s interim pastorship is about to end.
On October 16th, the Reverend Marcus Allen will give his first sermon from the
pulpit of Mt. Zion Baptist Church as its new pastor.
Allen, relatively young to be a pastor at 32-years-old, has already seen his
share of the good, the bad and the ugly as a member of the U.S. Army who
served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Allen had faith as a
young man in Milwaukee where he first heard the call of God, his faith was
forged under fire in those war-torn nations.
If the Baptist church were organized like a military unit, Allen would readily say
that he will not be in charge when he takes the reins of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
He gets his orders from above.
“In how I conduct my duties, one, I am led by the Holy Spirit,” Allen said. “Two, I try to be very personable, to connect with the people from the
youngest to the oldest, from the richest to the poorest. I also want to connect to the community, the unchurched who really don’t know who
Christ is. My ultimate goal is salvation. My responsibility as the pastor is to lead the congregation and point them towards the cross of Jesus
Christ. For me, my role is to be that spiritual leader to take the people where God wants us to be. I especially lean on and depend on God for
direction and guidance for what he has for his people.”
Allen is a very plain-spoken person who is deeply committed to his own spirituality and the spirituality of others.
“For me, my spirituality is ultimate,” Allen said. “I try my best to be led completely by God in my actions because being the pastor, my behavior
means something. My actions mean something. My words mean a lot. My words can produce life or death in the life of congregants and also
the people in the community. It’s my goal and my responsibility to always be able to present an image of God in my life. That requires a
committed daily devotion — we call them spiritual disciplines — which involve prayer, fasting, reading, studying and understanding your Bible,
service and being disciplined in those areas. It’s things that if we don’t do it, we won’t die. But if we do them, it will produce more in our lives.
It will make us more productive Christians. It’s always my intention to always keep Christ and keep God ahead that He may order my steps. I’m
a very spiritual person, but I’m not too spiritual that I don’t understand the ways of the world.”
But while Allen is deeply committed to his spirituality, he can also be one of the guys and relate to anyone, no matter what their station in life is.
“You see me here now in Air Jordans and fatigues,” Allen said. “I’m not your pastor that is in a suit and tie every day. And I think that alone
allows me to relate with those who are not born and raised in the Christian church. That’s my whole intention. I’m not saying that I am different
from anyone else, but I try to stay as real as possible and as relevant as possible that I may be able to talk to the person on the corner and I
can talk to the person who works at the courthouse or in the governor’s mansion. I may be able to articulate to both sides and not be lost in the
conversation or I lose them in conversation because I am too spiritual or too high that I can’t come down to their level. That’s what God did for
us. He is a high God, but he sent his Son Jesus Christ to come down to our level. For him to do that, it exhibits to us that we cannot think we
are so high or so much better than anyone else because we are Christians. We must exhibit a life that is worthy of the call of Jesus Christ.”
Allen also believes that the Baptist church needs to be concerned about more than just the hereafter.
“Anyone who takes on that title of Christian or take on that title of a spiritual person must understand the rights of humanity,” Allen emphasized.
“When it comes to civil rights, it’s just that everyone wants to be treated equally. I believe that falls on the responsibility not just on the church,
but on everyone. But when it comes to the church, when it comes to the Baptist church, we have that responsibility. The Bible says Jesus said,
‘When I was naked, did you clothe me? When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was in prison, did you come see me? When I was sick,
did you visit me?’ And they answer, ‘But we never saw you that way.’ And Jesus said, ‘When you do this to the least of these, you have done it
onto me.’ So it is our responsibility always to see people, to look at other people and look at their condition and not just walk past it. That’s if
we are Christian, Muslim or whatever faith we are. We just cannot allow the situation to remain the same, especially when we have the ability
to change that situation.”
And when Allen assumes his duties on October 16th, he won’t just do a whirlwind of activity to advance human rights. He will rely upon his
training as a member of the military to advance an agenda for human rights.
“It’s my responsibility to first evaluate what is going on, to look at the conditions that surround Mt. Zion, that surround this area South
Madison,” Allen said. “It’s to evaluate that. And then I must formulate a plan, come up with a plan to how we should approach it. And after you
formulate a plan, then you execute it. I’m a soldier. I’m still a soldier, once and always will be. Then you execute and then you reevaluate. What
did we do and how can we make it better? What was good about it and what was bad about it? Also I believe when it comes to civil rights and
making changes or making adjustments for the community, it must be done with a partnership. This church cannot do it by itself. The church
around the corner cannot do it by itself. It takes a partnership of community, the church and all individuals coming together and using all
resources to make things better for those who don’t have a voice, those who feel disenfranchised, those who feel disadvantaged and those
who are living in poverty. It’s not only going to take the church a meal once per week or the church providing the food pantry. It takes the
government. It takes the school system. It takes everyone coming together as a whole to turn things around.”
People may not hear from Reverent Marcus Allen right away when he assumes the pastorship at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, but one gets the
feeling that sooner or later, the entire community will hear from Rev. Allen.