JAMESTOWN — First Zion Baptist Church in Jamestown is celebrating 150 years this weekend.
The church, founded and organized by the Rev. John Emery of Kentucky, kicks off the festivities 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Wilberforce University Gaston R. Lewis Multiplex, where Dr. Otha Gilyard will be the featured speaker. Gilyard is the president of the Ohio Baptist General Convention and pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Columbus.
The celebration continues 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 23 with a service featuring Pastor Chris Vaughn of On Time Ministries, and 4 p.m. with a service featuring Pastor Cory Pruitt of Mt. Enon Baptist Church in Dayton.
The first members who made up the congregation were eight men and women from slave territory. Those faithful members were John Ement, James Todd, Catherine Mary Ballard, Lucy Brent, Mary Dent, Rachel Harrad, Elizabeth Johnson, and Martha C. Chambers Hickman. They lived in and around “Big Woods” which is known as Rosemore Farms.
The initial structure was a small, two-story building on the east side of what is now North Church Street and was called the First Anti-Slavery Baptist Church. A tornado destroyed this structure in 1884 and in June 1885 a deed was issued for the property, on which the current structure was erected at 15 E. Xenia Avenue.
Three years later in the church was rebuilt and the name changed to what is currently First Zion Baptist Church.
“Because of their faithfulness, God used these men and women to establish a church that would overcome obstacles and endure through many challenges,” said Pastor Dr. Clarence Bunch. “As a result, First Zion still stands 150 years later, as a reminder to all of us what Christ said, ‘Upon this rock I will build (his) church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18),” said current pastor Dr. Clarence Bunch.
Since accepting the call to Pastor at FZBC in 2009, the church has seen many changes both cosmetically and administratively under Bunch. New ministries have been added and created to serve the spiritual and physical needs throughout the community in which it serves and the faithful and trusting members have been working hard just as the original members.
For gala ticket and service information contact Tina Bunch at 937-604-6412.