The burning

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Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church performed a mortgage burning October 28 for its Lankford Avenue facility.
Martyn Kyle Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church performed a mortgage burning October 28 for its Lankford Avenue facility. Martyn Kyle

A mortgage burning is a 20th-century ritual that doesn’t occur much anymore, partly because few Americans stay in their homes long enough to pay off a mortgage. That’s not the case for Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, which has been around since 1867 and torched its deed of trust October 28.

When the historic church moved from its Ridge Street location—now the Music Resource Center—to a new facility on Lankford Avenue in 2003, it had a $1.2 million, 25-year mortgage. “We paid it off early,” says the Reverend Alvin Edwards. “Our members have been really good about giving.” That was cause for celebration for the 390-member congregation. And fire extinguishers were handy, assures Edwards.

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