Reverend Alphonso Lyons Jr., a pastor and community activist, has been instrumental in providing leadership to Mount Zion Baptist Church for almost 50 years. An effective communicator and teacher of God’s word, he is known for his gentleness and dynamic teaching styles. He dedicated his life to his church and the community in Peoria.
He was the firstborn of seven children to Alphonso and Ellora Lyons. He had his father’s name and height and his mother’s looks and heart. Junior is what my siblings and I affectionally called our oldest brother. His nieces and nephews would call him Reverend Uncle Junior. Friends and other family members would call him Rev.
At the age of seventeen, Al made it known he had been called to the ministry of Christ. Ordained in 1974, he served as an Assistant Pastor under the guidance of Dr. Wendall R. Phillips at Mount Zion Baptist Church. Shortly after being ordained, Reverend Lyons began serving as interim pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church. October of 1974, the church selected him as the head Pastor.
Looking back, we were not surprised he became a minister. His personality and overall demeanor were continuously gentle. He never got into fights with his siblings or even real arguments. Oh, there were plenty of disagreements. One thing we could count on, was him checking to see if we were ok especially after we had a disagreement.
Children were the key to his heart. Alphonso was a substitute teacher for Peoria Public Schools for many years. He believed the church should provide creative opportunities in helping motivate our youth and understand we only have a brief time to do so.
Always looking for ways to make his church and the community more financially grounded, he founded METEC, Mt Zions’ Effort to Equip the Community. METEC is a community development corporation that provides resources that helps families and individuals with housing and employment. During the 2008 Foreclosure crisis, METEC was instrumental in helping thousands of families keep their homes. Never wanting to be seen, he was always willing to be that pillar of support. Rev served on numerous boards and committees that included the Peoria Area Ministerial Alliance, Chairman of the Peoria Christian Leadership Council, Moderator of the Central District Congress, Baptist General State Conventions, Illinois Peoples Action and METEC.