“People make History,” if one believes that statement, they would find the profiles and articles about the members of Zion Baptist Church very interesting.
Zion’s members have played sterling roles in our city, state, and nation. They have been ex-slaves, laborers, politicians, preachers, teachers, writers, musicians, artists, lawyers, doctors, activists, and many other folk. In many cases they have been the first to act upon and reach for opportunities that traditionally had been denied our people.
Zion Baptist church was founded by a small group of people that came from other territories and towns. They came to Colorado with limited resources, little education, and wagons filled with determination. Historical records recognize November 15, 1865 as Zion’s official date of origin. Founding and charter members included Rev. William Norrid (Zion’s first Pastor), Sis. Rachel Norrid, Sis. E.J. Sanderline, Sis. Elmira Gibson, Bro. Thomas J. Riley, Sis. Carrie Armstrong, Bro. Reuben Bozier, Bro. Robert Bozier, Sis. Jane Bozier, Bro. William Bozier, Sis. Lucy Boyd, Bro. Leonard Bassett, Sis. Emma Green, and Sis. Jane Jackson. Bro. Thomas J. Riley and Bro. Robert Bozier was Zion’s first deacons.
In 1867 Zion purchased 2 lots located at 20th and Holladay (now Arapahoe) Streets and built their first house of worship. This first church building was a 25X40 foot frame structure. In the late 1870′s and early 1880′s a new brick structure was erected under the pastorship of Rev. R.M. Duling and Rev. J.B. Fields. Zion’s membership flourished under Rev. Field’s tenure and grew to over 200. During this era the church was a premiere locale for spiritual growth and community activity. The church was seen as a safe haven for many in the territory. Zion extended its ministry into the prison system during the mid 1880′s under the pastorship of Rev. William Gray.
In September 1891 Rev. Dr. W.P.T. Jones along with about 30 other members requested and received permission to leave Zion to start a new church. This new church was organized as Central Baptist Church. Under the pastorship of Rev. John E. Ford (1899-1906) and First Lady Dr. Justina L. Ford, Zion’s membership grew to over 400. The debt on the church was retired and the property’s value increased. Dr. Justina Ford was also the first Negro woman physician in Colorado.
Zion’s present church home was purchased in May 1911 from Calvary Baptist Church under the pastorship of Rev. David E. Over (1909-1924). Rev. Over served actively as an officer in the National Baptist Convention.
The Rev. Dr. Wendell T. Liggins was called to pastor Zion Baptist Church in October 1941 and faithfully served for 50 years. Rev. Liggins was one of the most prolific voices of the gospel to preach throughout the city and nation. This biblically sound man spiritually touched lives while raising awareness of the plight of the Negro. Many outreach programs such as Stovall Care Center, Zion’s Senior Center, and Liggins Tower were a part of his vision and still in existence today. Zion’s membership grew to over 1,000 during his tenure.
In July 1993 Rev. Frank M. Davis was elected to serve as the 25th and current pastor of Zion Baptist Church. Under Pastor Davis’ leadership Zion’s commitment to providing spiritual leadership continues. Our St. Luke 14:21 Ministry; Route 66 Bible Study; Grant Writing Ministry; and Women’s Ministry serve as examples of ministries established under Rev. Davis to advance the gospel within our community.
As part of the body of Christ, Zion members have spoken both loudly and softly through their actions, deeds, and words. They have been cornerstones in good as well as bad times. The splendor of Zion, however, does not rest in the accomplishments of any one of its members, or in the beauty of its physical building. Nor does it rest on the longevity or length of time its been in existence. The splendor of Zion rests in the fact that for 137 years Zion has as its foundation that, “Christ is All” and its purpose is to win souls for Christ and bring them into His kingdom. God bless you Zion Baptist Church.