Little Zion Baptist Church, Orange, Virginia
Little Zion Baptist Church
Rev. John E. Reid, Sr. Pastor
15116 Tomahawk Creek Road
Orange, Virginia 22960
Prior to the year 1870, church membership in this vicinity was interracial. Our founding fathers worshipped in the Zion Baptist Church. That church still stands less than two miles from us on the Old Gordonsville Road near Madison Run. At least twice a year we have joint worship service.
Desirous of having a church of their own, a few Negro men and women left the Zion Baptist Church and began meeting from house to house in the Lee’s Crossing area on Monrovia Road. Feeling a further desire for permanence, the congregation moved down on the Shady Grove Road where services were held under a brush arbor on land owned by Hampton Coleman. One of the ministers, who preached for them during this time, was a Rev. Chilsolm. It was soon decided, however, that this place of worship was too close to Shady Grove Baptist Church, and so the congregation moved back to the present area on Mallory Ford Road (now known as Mountain Track Road).
Records show that the old Little Zion Baptist Church was built in 1870 and was named LITTLE ZION. The land was generously donated by Rev. Allen Banks, who later served the Church as its second pastor. Our first pastor on this site was Rev. Barnie. The tenure of Rev. Allen Banks, who donated the land, is not known either.
The original structure of Little Zion was a small house built of wide boards. There were two windows, one on each side, and the entrance was through a single door in the center. The flooring was of wide boards as were the benches. As time passed, the original structure became too small for the increasing membership. The building was made wider and another row of benches was added. This time, however, these were church benches and not like the original ones of wide boards. Later, the original structure was lengthened, additional windows were installed, weatherboards were placed on the exterior and double doors were hung.
As the membership increased, the church built a separate dining hall. They named it, “Jasper Hall,” after one of the founding members. Once again, around 1960 the Banks family gave land to the Church to add an office, choir room, and restrooms to the rear of the Church. Later, new hardwood floors were installed; heating and air conditioning were installed; aluminum siding was placed over the weatherboards on the exterior of the church, and a new fence was built to enclose the grounds.
On August 22, 1982, The Reverend Marion F. Wilkerson became the Church’s new pastor. Within two years, the Church had built a new dining room, a small addition to the church sanctuary and purchased property from the Gilmore Family for additional parking.
Still under the leadership of Pastor Wilkerson, the congregation felt the need for a new Church. Land was donated to the Church by the S. Page Higginbotham family. In March of 2001 the congregation moved to its present location on Tomahawk Creek Road. And in March of 2010 the congregation was blessed to burn the mortgage of their new Church.
On Sunday, May 23, 2010, The Reverend Marion F. Wilkerson preached his last sermon. And on Sunday, June 6, 2010, Rev. Wilkerson’s first son of the ministry, The Reverend John E. Reid, Sr., returned to Little Zion Baptist Church to preach his first sermon as pastor.
As we close the book on this chapter of our heritage, and as we begin the next, let each of us solemnly vow that with God’s infinite wisdom and guidance, Little Zion will remain a landmark in this community.
Contributed by Marilyn Johnson Williams