Reverend Nathaniel G. Staggers
As a faith-based leader and shepherd of the flock at the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church for nearly a quarter of a century beginning in 1946, Reverend Nathaniel Green Staggers taught and modeled the word of God and led his congregation to be strong in faith and committed to works. During his long and distinguished pastorate, Reverend Staggers instituted innovative ideas that led Mt. Zion to institute a blueprint for a modern-day church which included community activism.
Under his leadership at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church, which was established in 1880, and is the oldest African American Baptist Church in the City of Orlando, officers and members were led to not only focus on the afterworld, but to also care about the “here and now” and go “outside of the walls of the church” to obtain justice for all people in the community.
Reverend Staggers was responsible for many "firsts," in the church and community. Examples include establishing a church office in 1952 with a full-time church secretary who served the church and was a community leader in the Callahan area and larger community for 45 years.
Another first, Reverend Staggers led Mt. Zion to become actively involved in the community and political arena. As a leader in the NAACP, he encouraged his membership to join and participate. After the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, the NAACP Headquarters disbursed representatives to local city branches across the country to challenge segregation in schools. Reverend Staggers was an enthusiastic partner and convinced members of his congregation to join the local desegregation lawsuit against Orange County Public Schools and under his leadership, in 1962, all eight of the plaintiffs were Mt. Zion families.
Reverend Staggers inspired the membership to undertake a building project which took seven years resulting in a magnificent edifice at a cost of $250.000. The Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church stands today at the corner of Washington Street and Chatham Avenue.
Reverend Staggers was also a mentor to other pastors. One of the most known was the late Reverend Fred Maxwell, who was the Pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church in Orlando. Reverend Maxwell said he never forgot Reverend Stagger’s welcoming attitude, his mentoring and coaching, which led him to eventually become the Pastor of St. John where he followed Reverend Staggers’ model of pastoring and community activism.
During his long and distinguished pastorate, Reverend Staggers instituted innovative ideas that led Mt. Zion to institute a blueprint for a modern-day church which included community activism.