History - Down Through The Years (1866 - 1991)

Zion Baptist Church has a historical and glorious past. This church building is the heir of the sacrificing toils of untiring Christian patriots. Whether we recognize it or not, we are rushing into a new era of church history. Each year we reach another milestone in this historic church. Since our organization in the year 1866, we have traveled a far distance.

  • Zion Baptist Church was organized on April 8, 1866, by Rev. Ephraim B. Rucker, who served as pastor until February 1869. We pay honor to the human father of our church. Under his leadership, the first deacons were as follows: Alexander Fay, Joshua Matthews, John B. Timmons, and Thaddeus Duncan. Fourteen days later these consecrated Christian workers organized the Sunday School. Deacon Alexander Fay was also the first Sunday School Superintendent.

  • Our second pastor, Rev. T. M. Allen, was called April 1869. He served from 1869 to 1885. Deacons ordained under him were: Silas Halman, Richard Harvey, Reuben Bennett, G. B. Gresham, Dennis Williams, and Mims. Deacon Dennis Williams was elected as the second Sunday School Superintendent. Through a misunderstanding, Zion split and Rev. T. M. Allen, Deacon Dennis Williams, Thaddeus Duncan, Silas Halman and several members withdrew from Zion and organized the Cole Street Baptist Church.

  • Rev. C. G. Holmes. the third pastor was called in April 1885. He served for four years. Under his leadership, the foundation of the new church, on this same dedicated spot, was laid; the brick church was built around the wooden structure in 1888. Deacons ordained were: John H. Henry and Reuben Gibson. Carol Freeman was also ordained as a deaconess. Deacon G. B. Gresham, Sr., from South Georgia, was the fourth Sunday School Superintendent. He served for twenty consecutive years. He was beloved and highly respected by all who knew him. The membership of the church leaped numerically. Sister Carol Freeman of the Deaconess Board baked the communion bread. Sister Freeman was also responsible for carrying to and fro the silver communion vessels and setting the table for communion on the second Sunday afternoon of each month.

  • Rev. L. T. Smith was the fourth pastor. He served for one year. He too worked vigorously for the new church.

  • Rev. W. P. Harper was the fifth pastor. He served less than one year. He worked faithfully to keep the worship service to its standard.

  • Rev. R. L. Darden was the sixth pastor. He served from 1891 to 1896. Under his administration, the walls of the new church were finished and a new roof was added. Mr. Bolan Glover, a well known Marietta journalist, donated generously to the building of the new church. The membership grew to 150. Deacons ordained were: Reuben Johnson and Randal Burton.

  • Rev. J. F. Hughes, the seventh pastor, was called in 1897. Under him, the new tower was built and completed. Deacon Johnson, who was an employee for a firm in Atlanta at that time, interceded with his employer to buy the bell for the tower; it weighed 1,600 pounds. The bell was bought and paid for in cash, installed in the tower and all indebtedness of the church was paid in less than one year. Also, Zion bought comfortable pews.

  • In 1898, Rev. N. B. Williamson, the eighth pastor, served for two years. At that time, he was also secretary of the state convention. He had the vision to organize the B.Y.P.U., now known as the Baptist Training Union since 1934. The first president of the B.Y.P.U. was Sis. Peggy M. Henry, who served faithfully and willingly for twenty plus years. The senior choir was organized under his leadership. The first organist was Sis. Ella Julian. At that time the choir loft was on the left in the west corner of the church. Deaconess Carol Freeman became physically disabled and was unable to continue the responsibility for the communion preparation. The church appointed Sis. Peggy Henry to handle this from  1898 to 1916. Sis. Peggy Henry continued baking the bread until her death in 1946.

  • The ninth pastor, Rev. F. M. Simmons was called in 1901. The parsonage of the church was bought for the amount of $800. Deacons ordained were: William Austin, William Pearson, and Joe Head. The membership increased to 160 or more. Professor L. B. Norris, principal of the public school, served as the fifth Sunday School Superintendent.

  • Rev. R. D. Arline, the tenth pastor, was called the latter part of 1907. He served until 1911. He was a student of the Bible and an able minister of the gospel. He launched projects to improved the church. The baptismal pool was installed and the church was covered with galvanized roofing. Deacons ordained were: Austin Green and Claude Jones. Sister Ella Julian served for years as an organist of the church. She too was faithful. Deacon Claude Jones served as the sixth Sunday School Superintendent. 

  • The Rev. W. P. Harper occupied the pulpit again for several months in 1912.

  • In the spring of 1913, Rev. W. F. James, the eleventh pastor, was called. The church grew strong spiritually. During his first year as pastor, the first revival was held and sixty candidates for baptism were added to the church. Under his administration, the vestibule and the inside swinging doors were added to the church. The choir loft was changed to the back of the pulpit; the pulpit furniture was purchased, the church was wired and the basement dug for the furnace. Deacons ordained were: Moses Willis, James Williams, Henry Booker, Webster Keys, W. L. Busby, and William Holmes, an ordained Deacon from Friendship Baptist Church, Marietta, Georgia. Deacon James served five years as Superintendent of the Sunday School. A piano for the church was purchased at that time by a project put on by the Sunday School. An individual silver communion set was bought and used in 1916. The Missionary Society was organized by Sister Lille B. James. She served as its first president; she was also the wife of Rev. W. F. James.


  • In the fall of 1918, Rev. H. F. Barnes, the twelfth pastor was called. He served for one year. Deacon Webster Keys was the superintendent of the Sunday School.


  • Rev. R. B. Abraham, the thirteenth pastor, was called in 1920. He served for one year. Deacon Sam Dallas, an ordained deacon from Cole Street Baptist Church, connected himself with Zion and served as Sunday School Superintendent for seven years. Rev Gaffney resigned in 1923.


  • Rev. N. H. Gamble, the fifteenth pastor, was called in 1923. He resigned in 1926.


  • Rev. F. M. Hutchinson, the sixteenth pastor, was called. He served from 1926 to 1929. He was a gospel preacher and showed Christian love for the older and shut-in members of the church. Brother G. D. Lynn was elected the tenth Sunday School Superintendent in 1926. He served until the Almighty Father called him home on October 23, 1935. Sister E. L. Keys filled out the expired months and in 1936, Sister Keys was elected the eleventh Sunday School Superintendent.


  • In April 1929, Rev. S. M. Lee came to Zion as the seventeenth pastor. The furnace was installed in the basement of the church. Deacons ordained were: Homer Bryant and J. L. Gilliard. Rev. Lee served until 1933. For several months in 1933, the church was without a shepherd to lead the flock.


  • In 1934, Rev. G. D. Hubert, the eighteenth pastor was called. Deacons ordained were: R. D. Reed, Moses Williams, and C. W. E. Johnson, an ordained deacon from Dallas, Georgia. Rev. Hubert served as pastor until July 18, 1935.


  • In 1936, the Rev. A. G. Belcher, the nineteenth pastor, was called. Under his leadership, the parsonage was recovered and repainted. Deacon F. H. Webb, an ordained deacon from Roswell, Georgia became one of Zion's deacons. Rev. Belcher organized The Floral Club in 1937. The objective was to give flowers to the deceased members, rather than auxiliaries of the church. This club was organized in the home of Mrs. Helen Holmes on Lawrence Street. She was the club president. One hundred thirty-seven members were added. Rev. Belcher submitted his resignation on October 19, 1941. It became effective on November 23, 1941. Zion was again without a shepherd until July 1942.


  • On July 5, 1942, the twentieth pastor, Rev. L. R. Edwards was called. The church membership had grown with 68 additions. During Rev. Edward's administration, eleven tasks were completed: the pastor's study, the choir room, the glass baptismal fountain in July 1951, pulpit furniture upholstered, enlargement of the choir loft, movement of the church pulpit a few feet forward and placement of a new church steeple. Deacons ordained were: Edward Bedford, Tom Sims, Gus Moore, and Mike Mayes, who was also elected treasurer. Rev. J. F. Hamm was ordained to the ministry in 1946. In February 1953, deacons ordained were: Levi McConnell, William Hudson, Lewis Scott, Charles Ferguson and W.H. Mack, an ordained deacon from Atlanta. Each first Sunday afternoon the pastor and one or more deacons started visiting the sick and shut-ins carrying communion to them. The delinquent members of the church were resurrected by making a house to house canvas to draw them back to church life. On Monday, December 7, 1953, he was called from his "labor to his heavenly home". He was funeralized on Sunday, December 27, 1953, at Zion.

  • The Rev. J. W. Cook, the twenty-first pastor, was called March 17, 1954. Rev. Cook was not only a matchless preacher and leader in his own denomination, but he also was a special reformer. His interests were bound up with everything that made for social righteousness and the promotion of the Kingdom of God. Five people were taken in for baptism and six by Christian experience. The church had a membership of 380. His achievements were many. They included: the completed furnishing of the parsonage, weekly church bulletins, the purchase of a typewriter and mimeograph machine, installation of a drinking fountain, purchasing an electric clock placing it in the church, organized the J. W. C. Chorus in 1954, organized the BYPU for young people in 1955, established a building fund, elected a financial committee, conducted Bible classes each Wednesday night and organized a youth choir. In April 1955, a week of services was conducted in celebration of the 89th Church Anniversary. Rev. Cook submitted his resignation on February 7, 1960, to become effective March 14, 1960. As a leader, he served loyally and faithfully, which was uplifting and edifying. Rev. Morris Grisgby was the twelfth Sunday School Superintendent and served only one year. He granted a ministerial certificate on October 2, 1957. He was voted unanimously as an associate minister of Zion Baptist Church on February 25, 1959. At his request, he was relieved as an associate minister on December 30, 1959. Sister Joan Hunter became the thirteenth Sunday School Superintendent in 1960.

  • The church was without a pastor from April to August 1960.

  • Rev. R. L. Johnson was called on August 7, 1960. He was installed by Dr. L. M. Terrill, President of the General Missionary Baptist Convention and pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Convention and pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta. During the pastorate of Rev. Johnson, a whole generation (approximately 250 members) was baptized and added to the church. Zion grew physically: two houses were bought on the north side of Lemon Street and combined with the parsonage which gave front footage to approximately 200 feet. This new property gave our church a city block in the heart of Marietta with front footage on Hayes, Lemon and Waddell Streets. The old church was redecorated in April 1975; the interior was painted, new carpeting was laid, a new piano was purchased by the senior choir and a public address system was installed.

    • Rev. Levi McConnell was granted a license from Zion Baptist Church to preach the gospel on March 28, 1962. In addition to Rev. McConnell became licensed to preach, Rev. J. W. Dargen was ordained and Rev. Tyrone Weaver Harden was also licensed to preach at the young age of eighteen while he was a student at Marietta High School.

    • Several men added to the board of deacons: Samson Palmer, M.J. Woods, James Willis, Charlie Riley, Albert Mayes, John L. Williams, John A. Black, George Williams, Ernest Bedford, Willie Hill, Willie B. Wilson, Prather Hunter, Lewis Reed, James Evergin, Aaron Cuthbert (formerly a deacon of Cole Street Baptist Church) and Carl Powers (who was a deacon at his former church in New York City).

    • The following persons served as Sunday School Superintendent from 1960-1977: Joan Hunter Newton, Rosalie Andrews, Ernest Bedford, Prather Hunter, Gwendolyn Watson, Bealer Sanders, and Doris Zachery.

    • In 1977, under the administration of Rev. Johnson, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Zion Baptist Church were held on March 27th. The participants were Rev. R. L. Johnson, Deacon George Williams (Chairman of the Deacon Board), the Honorable Dana Eastham, the Honorable Felmer Cummings, Mr. & Mrs. Steve Tumlin, other dignitaries of the City of Marietta, the church body and friends. The service was very impressive with different officials of the church taking an active part in the service.

    • The construction of the building was spearheaded by Deacon Charles Ferguson, Chairman of the Building Committee. The building was constructed by Robert Galpin, Architect of Bon Builders of Atlanta, Georgia. There were five deacons who signed the mortgage to secure the loan for the new church. They were Charles Ferguson, Ernest Bedford, Willie Hill, Albert Mayes, and George Williams. The loan was made by the United Federal Savings and Loan Association of Smyrna, Georgia in the amount of $160,000.

    • The congregation moved into the new building in 1978 with Rev. Johnson, Mother Anna Mae Solomon and Mother Nellie Sims leading the procession into the church. Mother Sims, who was the oldest living mother at the time, cut the ribbon starting the ceremony.

    • Sunday School Superintendents from 1978-1994 were as follows: Deacon Prather Hunter, Sister Joyce Padgett, Sister Shirley Robertson, Rev. Loren Swift, Sister Evelyn Taylor, and Deacon Charles Byrd.

    • Ordained deacons from 1978-1988 were: Willie Sadler, John Nelson, Eddie Fincher, and Danny Palmer.

    • A scholarship committee was organized to encourage the youth to further their education and to develop an interest in getting involved in different organizations of the church community. In 1986, the anniversary committee pledged to pay off the mortgage early. The anniversary was a success and the membership cooperated beautifully.

    • In 1987, this committee was converted to the Mortgage Committee.

    • In 1987, the following brothers were enlisted for deacons in training: Charles Byrd, Sam Carter, Phillip Fant, Leon Grant, Charles Harris, Don Johnson, Joe Neeley, and James Robinson.

    • A church van was purchased for community activities.

    • Zion's pastoral staff continued to grow. Added to the staff were Rev. Harris T. Travis, J. F. Ham, James Holloway, Randy McClure, Charles L. Lyons, Clarence Elebee (uniting on February 3, 1991), Dwight Graves (uniting on December 15, 1991), and Rev. Darrell Abbott. Rev. Elebee was assigned and established Sunday evening services. Attendance was increased as we continued to do the will of the Lord. In addition, two more men were ordained: Rev. Larry Purvis (September 1990) and Richard Hayes (December 29, 1991).

  • On August 20, 1989, the following deacons were ordained: Don Johnson and Joe Neeley.

  • In April 1990, the church purchased the property to the east of the current Zion location for $105,000. The Property would be developed at a later date.

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Church Information

165 Lemon Street NE 

Marietta, GA 30060


Contact Information

Phone: (770) 427-8749

Fax: (770) 425-2921

Church Office Hours

Tues - Fri: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Sat, Sun, Mon: Church Office Closed

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