L. Claudia Allen, she was a great leader in our church. We also sponsor a program which is called L. Claudia Allen Day and that’s a fundraiser for scholarships and then we present scholarships in her honor. Yes, I remember her. I knew her very well because she was big on Girl Scouts and I was a Girl Scout and a Brownie leader. So she would always find you and ask you, ‘What are you going to do for the Master today?’
Adelma Wallace remembers growing up in Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church under outstanding leaders such as, L. Claudia Allen, who started Orlando’s first Boy Scout troop and Girl Scout troop for black children. She describes L. Claudia Allen as very gentle and always willing to help others.
There is a photo of L. Claudia Allen in the church sanctuary with one of her favorite sayings, “If I can help somebody.”
As Mrs. Wallace shares in this interview, her daughter was one of the first recipients of the L. Claudia Allen Scholarship. She received the scholarship in 1981 and earned her degree from Florida A & M University.
In 2012 Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church awarded two $1,000.00 scholarships each to church members for college tuition. Adelma Wallace, who worked as an educator for 43 years, says, “You always look forward to children going off to school and trying to better their education. So it is always an inspiration to see them actually want to go further.”
Mrs. Wallace’s first teaching position was at Eccleston Elementary in 1959. Then she was transferred to Lakemont Elementary School in Winter Park where she worked for 23 years. She continued as an educator working with adults at Orlando Tech in the Literacy Program, helping military recruits at the Naval Training Center, and eventually retired from Mid Florida Tech.
In this church oral history interview on Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church, Adelma Wallace details the church leaders, church services, Sunday School, Baptist Training Union, Bible School and other Mt. Zion educational programs which taught her the Bible and trained her in spiritual concepts.
She can remember when Mt. Zion was a “typical old fashioned church” located on the east corner of Chatham and Washington Street in downtown Orlando. They would walk to church from the south side of town and everyone in her house attended Mt. Zion. Her mother, Ernestine Dallas, served as church organist and church pianist for over 40 years.
Deacon John Demps was a church leader she recalls fondly as “a very humble black person”. She would later teach his children at Eccleston Elementary. She names the ministers who inspired her as she was growing up and says as a little girl, “I liked the sermon.”
One of her favorite memories is the Bible school event Mt. Zion shared with Mt. Olive Methodist Church when they would close the street downtown and have group activities for the children.
Mrs. Wallace is still an active member of Mt. Zion, she sings in the choir, worked on the Women in White by Candlelight event, and recently served on the church anniversary committee. Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church was founded in 1880 and is the oldest African American church of continuous community worship in Central Florida.
Adelma Wallace is a lifetime member of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church and states, “It helped me to grow spiritually as an adult.”
We invite you to listen to the legacy of church in community life in this oral history interview with Mrs. Adelma Wallace, November 5, 2012.
LISTEN Part I (14:56) Church Education, Church Programs, Women of the Church, L. Claudia Allen, Girl Scouts
LISTEN Part II (9:48) Public School Educator, Church Leaders, Church Choir, L. Claudia Allen Scholarship Fund