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North Las Vegas church destroyed in 2017 fire demolished

Zion United Methodist Church, one of the first African American churches in the Las Vegas Valley, was demolished on Tuesday, years after a fire ravaged the building in 2017.

“It’s sobering,” said the Rev. Linda Stanley, pastor of the church located at 2108 Revere St. “To see it come down, it was hard on the people of the church.”

Church members originally planned to restore the building but weren’t able to raise enough money because of the challenges of the pandemic and high inflation.

On May 29, the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church voted in a meeting to demolish the church, Stanley said.

The church currently operates next door in a building it had called home before the now-demolished building was built in 1979.

“It’s just like home, and you always find your way back home,” said Willie Johnson, a member of the congregation since 1964.

Zion United Methodist Church’s history goes back more than 105 years old, Stanley said.

“A lot of pastors have come out of Zion,” she said. “A lot of churches were started in that building.”

One of the church’s most well-known ministers, the Rev. Marion D. Bennett Sr., fought for civil rights and marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. His daughter, Karen Bennett-Haron, became the first Black justice of the peace in Nevada in 2002. She still holds that office today.

After the church burned, the church held services at Nevada Partners, located less than a quarter-mile from where the church stood. It moved to its current building after the Genesis II Christian Center left, and the May vote upgraded that location from temporary sanctuary to permanent residence.

Stanley and others compared the church’s experience to a phoenix rising from the ashes. They point to the rows of fruits and vegetables growing in the church’s garden as just one example.

“I think we’ve still got more to offer,” said Johnny Hampton, another member of the congregation. “We’ve got a big garden, we’ve got an orchard. We’re trying to do something to feed this community.”

Contact Mark Credico at mcredico@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCredicoII.

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