Constructed in 1870, this stately Romanesque style building was once home to the largest African-American religious congregation in Lafayette County. Through the years the enrollment declined, the church lost its pastor. Without a replacement pastor being available, the Central Council of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Kansas City ordered the doors closed in 2006. During this extended period of vacancy, the congregation has been scattered. Vandals have caused damage to the empty church, further demoralizing the few remaining members.
The building is now controlled by the absentee Fifth District Council of the AME in Kansas City, and there are no known plans for the edifice, or evidence of maintenance or upkeep. It is hoped that listing will help find a developer for this property.
Update: The Zion AME Church building has been vandalized a couple of times since its listing on our Most Endangered list, but the community has come forward to repair and stabilize until a suitable new owner can be found. Discussions are currently being had with the Wentworth Academy, a college-prep military school about acquiring the building for incorporation into their campus. The community is considering building a new hospital, and Wentworth is interested in acquiring the old hospital building. The church sits on land in the middle of the old hospital and the Academy, so the structure would be a natural addition for use as a chapel or repurposed for a new use.
Update: The Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church was purchased in 2017 and restored. It now functions as an event space. Check out the website to see the amazing transformation!