“UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH, AND THE GATES OF HELL WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT”
This history shows pertinent data and records of the past and present Pastors, Deacons and Officers. All information preceding the year 1935 was gathered and assembled from knowledge of our Deacons and the elder members of the Zion Hill Baptist Church. Since institutions are always the outgrowth of ideas, who can set a peg in “the sands of time” and say: “A certain institution had its beginning at this point”.
The purpose of this material is to have on hand a systematic account of our churches growth from the past to the present and future. This we prayerfully hope will be read and used by each member of this generation and generations to come.
Zion Hill Baptist Church began on the same site in which it is located today. It was said to have been organized by the Rev. A. Penn. His membership was unknown. This was in the year 1875.
According to the minutes of our records, the Rev. J.R. Ricks of Atlanta served as Pastor in 1935. He served 8 years until his death.
In October of 1943, Rev. L.S. Stells, a Christian and dedicated young leader, was called as Pastor. The Rev. L.S. Stells was called after the death of Rev. Ricks. Miss Rubye Long was elected Clerk and Secretary. First Lady Stells organized a Senior Choir with Miss Edress Long as Pianist and Mrs. Stells as directress. Under Rev. Stells leadership, membership increased as a new church was erected and dedicated in the year of 1944. The Dedicatory Services were conducted by the Widows Son Lodge 4 TJ. AAY.M. Pastors following Rev. Stelle were Rev. S.T. Rogers and Rev. W.J. Gresham until 1951.
On October 2, 1952 the Rev. W.L. Reynolds, an efficient dynamic and inspirational gospel preacher was called as Pastor of the church. He felt the need to beautify the church, and on June 16th, 1957 services were held in the newly remodeled auditorium. Under his leadership, a Youth Day Program was instituted and held each 5th Sunday. It was organized for the purpose of reaching hidden talent of the young people. From the 5th Sunday program greater ideas began to formulate and on October 22, 1956, the Junior Church was organized. Also, under Rev. Reynolds’ leadership, the outside of the church was bricked. He successfully organized a Junior Mission.
In the year 1960, the Rev. E.F. Hatchett, became the Pastor. Under his leadership, 78 members were added to the church family. During the twenty years Rev. Hatchett served as Pastor, the church paid off the $500.00 for bricking the building. The Educational Building was added and the auditorium was renovated. During his 9th year of pasturage, we had an approved kindergarten and accredited day care center. He also secured legal deeds to the church property, land for a parking lot, sewage system for the church, indoor baptismal pool and acquired a Hammond Organ. Under Rev. Hatchett, Rev. James Parker served as Assistant to the Pastor. Church services then went from 2 Sundays a month to every Sunday. The Fellowship Choir was organized under Rev. Parker to provide music for the 2nd & 4th Sunday Services. The Annual Church Anniversary of Zion Hill was organized in 1970 with Sister Rubye Long Gordon as Chairperson. The Birth Month Club was organized in 1977 by Rev. Hatchett. Under his leadership we had an active pre-school program for children operated by the Vista Federal Program with more than 22 children enrolled. Zion Hill also had a Bible Seminar under the auspices of The American Bible Seminar. The teaching staff was: Rev. J.E. Hightower and Rev. L.C. Ramsey. During the month of March in 1978, the Senior Choir, under the leadership of Sister Dorothy Cowins and Sister Classie Smith presented a very beautiful yard bulletin to the church.
On September 18th, 1980, Rev. James Wright, Jr. was called as Pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church. During years of service under Rev. Wright’s leadership, many new members have been added to the church family. He is a dedicated Christian leader. Rev. Wright’s ministry carries emphasis on concern for the sick and shut-in. Already the church has become more actively involved in community services, joining other churches to form clusters to more efficiently address the needs of the community.
He has instituted regular Bible Study and is charting a course where all of us become more accountable for our responsibilities to the church and its surroundings. Zion Hill is blessed to have Rev. Wright as Pastor.
Under Rev. Wright’s leadership, the Birth Month Club had its first tea. It was a big success. The Queen of Roses was organized by Sis. Bessie Browder in 1981. The Church was blessed with five ceiling fans, installed by Rev. Wright and Deacon Eurial Campbell. Also the church acquired a new P.A. System that was installed by Rev. Wright and his brother, Robert Copeland. A piano was donated to the church. Zion Hill is blessed to have such wonderful and thoughtful members. Sister Rubye Long Gordon was elected Clerk of Zion Hill in 1945 under Rev. J.R. Ricks and served until 1982 when she retired as Clerk Emeritus, while under the leadership of Rev. Wright. The church granted her a pension for life.
In 1983 a new Junior Usher Board was organized under the leadership of Sis. Willie Mae Moreland. Sis. Verdean Griggs and Sis. Sarah Wright. In 1981, a new organ was dedicated to Zion Hill in memory of Deacon Eugene Smith. Some of the other church acquisitions were: new chandeliers, new furnace and air condition. In 1985, the James Wright Gospel Choir was formed. The Rev. Michael Springer was the first President and Rev. Mark Weaver was our musician. Sis. Sarah Wright and Sis. Melaine Almond served as advisors. A few years later, Zion Hill was blessed with our first Male Chorus where Bro. James Floyd served as President and Sis. Debbie Hogg Springer as their musician.
In a growing concern for our community a Thanksgiving Feed the Hungry was instituted for Douglas County. It started small and as it continued to grow under the leadership of Sis. Helen Daniels it moved from the church to the Senior Services building on Fairburn Road. We the Zion Hill Church Family, thank Sis. Helen Daniels & the Senior Services for a job well done.
As more souls were saved and God continued to bless Zion Hill we had need for a new sanctuary. A board of Trustees was formed for this purpose. They were as follows: Bro. Douglass Smith, Chairman - Deacon Michael Stiggers, Co-Chairman and Sis. Mary Armstrong –Secretary. Other members were, Sis. Juanita Parks, Deacon Eurial Campbell, Rev. Charlie Gary Sexton, Bro. Andre Van Pelt, and Bro. Kenneth Ward. We broke ground in 1993 under the direction of Mr. Homer Danley and Mr. Rubin Iniqu. On the 3rd Sunday, January 16, 1994 we marched into our new sanctuary.
Under Pastor Wright’s ministry the Church has traveled all over Georgia and the surrounding states such as Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Ohio spreading the Gospel. People from all over the United States from far and near have come thru these doors. The late Rev. Lewis Cobb, Jr. and his choir recorded their first album live here. Pam Martin of WSBTV was one of our first Women Day Speakers. Dottie Peoples came to Zion Hill and did a concert. La Shun Pace also came to Zion Hill and sung with our Pastor.
Rev. Jerry Black, Rev. Timothy Fleming, Pastor E. Dewey Smith, Jr., Rev. Johnathan Carter, and Rev. Joseph Lowery are among many preachers that have preached here at Zion Hill.
Under the direction of Rev. Hara Griffin the Zion Hill Mass Choir cut a CD.
Down thru the years, Zion Hill has been a beacon of light for Justice. In 1964, the Freedom Riders stopped here on their march to Atlanta. Also in 2007, Zion Hill’s own Kimberly Alexander, Pres. of West Metro NAACP led a rally to free Genarlow Wilson. Zion Hill’s own Pastor James Wright, Jr. was one of the key note Speakers. Later in the fall he was freed. On September 6, 2008, another milestone was made by Zion Hill Baptist Church Truth Center with the first Cancer 5K Walk. We raised money and the Mayor of Douglasville was one of our keynote Speakers. This was the first 5K walk for Cancer by a Church in Douglas County.
On Sunday, May 7, 2017, Rev. James Wright Jr, was elevated to the Office of Bishop in the Mantle Covenant Fellowship.
The Lord has truly been good to Zion Hill Baptist Church. As Bishop James Wright continues to follow Christ, and as we follow his leadership, God will continue to bless.
ZION HILL BAPTIST CHURCH
Roster of Pastors
Rev. A. Penn, Organizer (1875-1905)
Rev. John Kelsey
Rev. D. L Lowe
Rev. R. R Smith
Rev. J. J. Daniel
Rev. A. Young
Rev. B. J. Johnson
Rev. A. C. Woods
Rev. R. H. Milner
Rev. C. L. Wilder
Rev. J. R. Ricks (1935-1942)
Rev. L.S. Stells (1943-1946)
Rev. S. T. Rogers (1946-1951)
Rev. W. J. Gresham (1951-1952)
Rev. W. L. Reynolds (1952-1958)
Rev. E. F. Hatchett (1960-1980)
Bishop James Wright, Jr. (1980-Present)