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Constructing a new sanctuary
In the pulpit
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Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church has been around for a long time — it’s approximately 118 years old.
The church is in need of extensive repair, and the small congregation is in the process of building a new sanctuary.  The building project started in 2005.  However, with a small membership, the renovation project has been slow.
“We want to be better able to serve the community, especially the elderly and youths. We plan to have computer classes for the children. My desire is to assist in pulling the Gardi community together,” said Pastor Earnest Williams.
Williams has served as pastor of Mt. Zion for 12 years. He’s been in ministry for 14 years. He also served as pastor of St. Thomas AME in Walthourville for 10 years.
Members of the church are elderly and most of them are on fixed incomes.  With the assistance of friends and other churches, various fundraisers have brought in some money. However, more funds are needed.  
“I am extremely grateful to all who have assisted us in this building project.  Many people have been especially helpful to us,” Williams said. “We are approximately 50 percent completed.  We have the foundation laid, walls erected, and doors and windows installed. But much more work and money are needed.”
At 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, Mt. Zion members will participate in a gospel singing at Bethel AME in Hinesville.  Bethel is Williams’ home church. Various groups such as the West Singers, Zion Gospel Travelers, The Salvations, community male choirs and many more are scheduled to appear.  
Williams, a native of Newport News, Va., and a military retiree, said he enjoys helping people.
“I love teaching the Word of God and seeing a change in people’s lives. I am inspired when I see people converted, and become good disciples,” he said.  
Williams is active in the church and community. He is a member of the Liberty County United Ministerial Alliance and the Wayne County Ministerial Alliance. He also serves as the AME president of the Nehemiah Group. Williams works at Fort Stewart as a weapons technician.  
Anyone who wants to donate or help with the building project can call Williams at 876-6761 or 980-2353.
Williams is married to Janice Williams, and they live in Hinesville. They are the parents of three girls and have five grandchildren. Their son is deceased.  Janice is a native of Big Stone Gap, Va., and is employed as a food service manager at Frank Long Elementary School.
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