HISTORY OF ZION HILL BAPTIST CHURCH
In 1870, a few years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, ZION HILL BAPTIST CHURCH grew out of a prayer meeting. Realizing their duty to Almighty God and wanting to give Him thanks and praise, a few humble people gathered in the home of Sister Kizzie and Brother Abraham Robinson and began to pray. By 1871, with Rev. Daniel Brown as the temporary pastor, a bush harbor offered shelter as the prayer meeting grew rapidly and the home could no longer accommodate the people. Time passed, and the group decided to try and build a church. With land given by the Robinsons, the first church building was completed about 100 feet to the left of the present building. Around 1874, Rev. Robert Hughes was elected pastor and under his leadership Zion Hill Church grew both in spirit and in numbers. Its spirited deacons and faithful but devout members also led the way. One of Rev. Hughes' greatest accomplishments during his nearly 20 years as pastor was the formation of “The Sister and Brothers of Charity", a group to aid the sick and help bury the dead.
In 1894, Rev. Dillard Goffney of Orange, Va. was elected pastor. Blessed with the abilities to both sing and preach, and the skills of an excellent leader and carpenter, he won the hearts of many for God. The church grew in brotherly love with home and foreign mission work. The congregation continued grew so rapidly that the small building could no longer accommodate everyone. Rev. Goffney, with low finances and a salary of 5 cents, led the goal of building a new church, which was completed about 1900. Around 1915, Zion Hill affiliated with the Shiloh Baptist Association, and went on record as ever pledging full support to aid the Association in its good works. Rev. Goffney resigned after 29 years as pastor.
Following Rev. Goffney's resignation as pastor, the church went through a period of short time pastors. In spite of short-term leadership and the death of many of the original congregation, the church continued to thrive. In 1922, Rev. J. R. Wills was elected pastor but only served for three years before he died. He was the first to successfully have a 10-day revival at Zion Hill. Rev. Price succeeded Rev. Wills but only served two years as pastor before accepting the pastorate at another church. In 1930 Rev. C. N. Hawk assumed pastorate of Zion Hill, but resigned within two years. For a very brief period of time, Rev. Walker, a dynamic leader with a beautiful bass voice was pastor. As was the case in most of America, the depression years were tough on Zion Hill but still we survived. Although members were dying and moving away, the church moved onward with a very small congregation. In 1932, Rev. M. C. Perkins was elected pastor, but he, too, soon was called to another church out of state. He recommended Rev. J. E. Percy for the leadership role.
On February 18, 1940, a cold winter third Sunday, the church building was completely destroyed by fire. The smaller building that had been used as a Sunday school room and for other church activities was also destroyed. But with the belief that the church was only a building the members knew that the true church of God could never be destroyed. On February 23 of that same year, a meeting was called at the home of Sister Mary Cosy to discuss plans for rebuilding. Zion Hill’s sister church, St. John, offered the privilege of holding meetings there. Rev. Robinson of Grace Episcopal Church at Cismont gave half of the funds for the new building; church members pledged the other half. Through the grace of God, with help from friends, and with a devout and determined small congregation, on the first Sunday in November of 1940, only nine months later, the present church building was dedicated to the service of God.
In 1943, Reverend J. H. Ford of Culpeper, Virginia, was installed as pastor. In addition to being a “gatherer of souls,” Rev. Ford was a carpenter. He began building an annex to the building and completed it before he was called home to rest on January 18, 1954, after 11 years of service at Zion Hill.
In June 1955, Dr. Reginald A. Johnson of Charlottesville, VA was elected pastor and went on to become the longest serving pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church. As pastor for over 50 years, Dr. Johnson was a true and devoted leader and shepherd of the church. Under his leadership, souls were saved, children were born, baptized, married, and buried and the church thrived and grew. While his accomplishments were numerous, his leadership was exactly what the church needed. He was a pastor in every sense and every member knew that he was there for him or her, no matter why or what time. Under his leadership the congregation grew and we are proud to have a very fine Diaconate, Trustee Board, Usher Board, Missionary Circle, Willing Workers, Choir, a beautiful fellowship hall and baptismal, a beautiful cemetery, and so many other things of which we are most proud.
Yes, Zion Hill Baptist Church has come a long way. We are proud to be a pillar in our community. Today, we begin a new era for Zion Hill Baptist Church with new church leadership. We stand in humble submission to God for all of His goodness to us down through the ages of our history. With Christ as our chief corner stone, and a new shepherd to lead us where God will have us go, we stand fast. We have faith that He will continue to bless and guide us, just as He did when we began in the Robinson home back in 1870.
1st Sunday: 11:00am Divine Worship & Communion
2nd Sunday: 10:00am Men's Worship & Celebration
3rd Sunday: 11:00am Divine Worship & Celebration
4th Sunday: 10:00am Youth Worship & Celebration
SUNDAY SCHOOL (all ages)
9:45am 1st and 3rd Sundays
6:15pm EVERY Thursday