History of Zion Baptist
Charles Town, WV 25414
Zion Baptist Church like other African-Americans churches was organized by former slaves, who having been converted had attended the white churches that would receive members. It was not long until they desired greater religious freedom; believing that they could serve the Lord better under their own vine and fig tree and encouraged by Rev. T.B. Shepherd, minister of the First Baptist Church which was a white congregation. They decided to organize and be set apart as a separate body. Since there was First Baptist Church they named the newly organized church" The Second Baptist Church". This is the name that appears on the comer stone of the old church that burned in 1918.
Several young men had felt called to the ministry and were sent to the Theological School in Richmond, VA. Two of these attending was. Jesse Saunders and James Holts.
Rev. Jesse Saunders did not stay at the school very long, being saddened' by the death of a fellow student who lost his life in a boating accident, he left school before completing his course. After his return home the desire for a separate church was so great, meetings were held and he was called ordained and set apart to take charge of the new church. They had meetings in homes and finally they secured permission to meet in the public school house for some years. Under Rev. Jesse Saunders' leadership. The membership grew and their desire to build a church finally materialized through the generosity of Mr. William Hill.
Mr. Hill wanting a business location purchased some property in this section of town which was known as" Potato Hill". This property was near the school house. He was not a member but a very great friend. He gave the church land to build a church edifice as a donation. The land was accepted, staked off, excavated, stone, sand and lime hauled and Mr. George Hart and son Dan, stone masons were busy building the foundation. They were proud to have men like Mr. Hart and his son qualified to do masonry. The little church got busy. Rallies were held, soliciting papers where sent out and donations were given. Many members gave their time by coming with picks and shovels helped with the excavating, while others used carts and wagons to haul sand and stones. The Trustees with Dr. Benjamin Nelson as chairman soon had arrangements made, lumber and carpenters engaged; it was not long before a new church was erected on Potato Hill. It took several years to complete because of the lack of money. Services were held in the basement and was the scene of several great revivals. Finally, the church was completed and dedicated with much joy. Rev. Saunders was very happy with the accomplishments as pastor. His health caused him to resign and was succeeded by Rev. A. H. Tilghman of Leesburg, VA.
Some of the ministers pasturing this church up to this point in history which covers the first 66 years. Rev. C.H. Minor, Rev. James Robinson, Rev. C.R. Wills, Rev. Enoch Churchill, Rev. Reir, Rev •. Jessie Williams, Rev. Murray, Rev. Eugene Baylor, Rev. Thomas Jackson, Rev. Frank Yates and Rev. W.B. Duson.
During the leadership of Rev. Yates, the church suffered a disastrous fire Mrs. Edna Green, who was twelve at the time, recalls the night of the fire. It was following Night Watch Service, she saw the, blaze from an overheated stove and turned in the alarm.
Under the leadership of Rev. Yates, the church members along with the Trustees began arrangements for a new church. Mr. Benjamin and Roy Laton of Millwood,
VA. Builders of our own race, built a greater and more imposing edifice. This church was
completed in 1921. This edifice was given the name Zion Baptist Church.
Rev. Yates retired and after some years Rev. W. B. Dusun was called. Failing health and advancing age forced him to retire. He was succeeded by Rev. S. H.
Rev. Patterson took the helm in the early forties. He served well with many improvements accomplished. Rev. Patterson served at the church until his death
Our next minister was Rev. Alvin Parris of Washington, D.C. He was called in September 1975 to serve. Rev. Alvin Parris served for four years, resigning in 1979.
Rev. Phillip Coram was called to take the helm in May 1979. He was installed on December 16th, 1979 and ordained on September 22, 1979. Rev. Coram served until he resigned in March of 1986.
Rev. Abner Carey Jr. was installed in September 1986. Rev. Carey achieved many accomplishments during his 11 years at Zion. We were able to purchase new church seats, new pulpit furniture, stain-glass windows and many outside improvements. Rev. Carey resigned in November of 1997.
Bishop Charles F. Cummings Sr. was installed in 1999 and continued his spiritual walk as Pastor with the Zion Baptist Church until May 2015.
Currently with our Pastor Dr. Donald Anderson, elected and installed in 2015, the Church
is moving forward in the Lord. Stressing adherence to the Word of God first and foremost with integrity and good character.
We have faith that our future will be edifying and productive for us, and pleasing and glorifying to our God.
To God be the Glory Historians: Deaconess Thelma Clay and Bro. Edward Braxton.