Churchgoers' Tithes Pay for $13 Million Facility

The senior pastor of a megachurch in Albany, Ga., is praising God for blessing his congregation's tithes amid economic challenges to help them move into a multimillion-dollar church building.

On Easter Sunday, the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church congregation dedicated a $13 million, 67,000-sq. ft. facility together with Albany City Mayor Willie Adams and Georgia House Democrat Sanford Bishop, among others.

According to Mt. Zion Senior Pastor Daniel Simmons, the five-year expansion project succeeded largely because of the church's tithes, which never decreased even amid the downturn.

"[God] showed us that no matter what's going on in the world, He does not operate on the world's system," Simmons told the local WALB news station.

The pastor highlighted how the congregation had been blessed even as the region's major employers, Merck and Cooper Tires, laid off about 2,000 employees, and the state was forced into budget cuts by revenue decreases.

"I'm a true believer of giving tithes and that's something that I was raised doing, and I continue to do it because I've seen many blessings come my way from me giving," said Japhia McKibben, one of Mt. Zion's more than 2,300 members.

With more than 2,100 seats, the new building is expected to allow the church to better serve its members and its 54 ministries to better spread God's word.

"God has richly smiled on us. And I think the timing is His," said Simmons.

Established in 1865, Mount Zion is affiliated with the Fowltown Missionary Baptist Association, the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia, Inc., and the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Its ministries include a prison ministry, housing ministry, soup kitchen ministry, youth mentoring ministry, after school tutorial ministry, and a benevolent ministry that provides financial assistance to individuals and families in need.

The church describes itself as being "morally and financially sound."