HISTORY OF ZION HILL MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
FROM: 1879 122 YEARS (OLD SITE) TO: 2001
FROM: 2002 11 YEARS (NEW SITE) TO: Present
The Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1879 at its old site in Hernando, Mississippi. The Church was originally named the Williams Baptist Church. In 1879, Williams Baptist Church was dissolved and re-established as two separate churches, Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church and Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
Zion Hill moved about two miles north of their previous location and settled on a two-acre plot of land on top of a small hill. Old General Robertson (a former slave master) gave us this land. Zion Hill’s original name was Zion, but the church was often described or referred to as the church on the hill, which led to its present name Zion Hill. Joe Dennis was one of the founders who, with others, donated their personal efforts in establishing a new church.
Zion Hill has experienced phenomenal growth over the years. It was one of the largest churches in DeSoto County until World War II. During this period, African-Americans migrated north which decreased the population of the area.
In 1952, the church was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt, slightly smaller, in 1954. Over the years, Zion Hill continued to be a leader in the community. The church served as a schoolhouse during weekdays and a house of worship on Sundays.
In the 1970’s, the church was renovated under the pastorship of Rev. T.L. Tipton. Renovations that were done under his leadership included new pews, painting, and other modernizations to the facility. Other pastors included Rev. James Smith, Rev. Zelma Morris, Rev. Ernest Payne, and Rev. C.L. Ladd.
Zion Hill underwent other renovations under the leadership of Rev. Ernest Payne who was with us from 1981-1989. Our old church was bricked after several accidents occurred to the facility. The church grew spiritually under the leadership of Pastor Payne.
In 1990, Rev. C.L. Ladd became Pastor serving twelve years before his death. Rev. C.L. Ladd’s vision was “I see a new church”. He worked with his officers and the church and the church worked with him. Under his leadership, Zion Hill made many accomplishments. Some included weekly services and purchasing of five acres of land at the corner of Robertson Gin Road and Ranch Road from Butro Wright and wife Arie Holloway Wright for a new church site. (1994). The church continued to grow spiritually under Pastor Ladd’s leadership.
The church members prayed and stayed faithful that we would realize Rev. Ladd’s vision. The building committee, Adell Dennis, Robert Pighee, Jr., James Self, Larry Woods, Sr., Nora Logan, and Barbara Greer, along with the congregation worked tirelessly and without trepidation to reach our goal. In 1999, plans had begun to erect a new church building. In 2001, the Zion Hill M.B. Church Family began construction of the new facility by our own Deacon Adell & Sherry Dennis, owner of A & S Construction. Rev. Ladd’s vision was now visible. He departed this life in November 2001. We continued to build this house without a pastor. Rev. Ernest Payne was elected to start as our new pastor in April 2002. Later part of April 2002, Zion Hill Church Family moved into the new sanctuary where we now reside. Again, under the leadership of Pastor Payne we continued to grow. He served for an additional nine years before his death in March 5, 2011. Through prayer and continued faith, God has revealed to us a new leader. Bishop Brian Dewayne Olden was chosen as minister, teacher, and servant to preach the gospel of Christ on January 1, 2012. Bishop Olden was installed as Pastor of Zion Hill M.B. Church in Hernando, Ms on April 29, 2012. Bishop Olden is undertaking a vision inspired by God. The church is getting ready to experience a new horizon in ministry and to become an oasis of love in the city of Hernando. Bishop Olden is reaching the desolate souls and leading them to a life of christian maturity as commissioned by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We thank God for having allowed us, the Zion Hill M.B. Church Family, the opportunity to build him a house. Our prayer today is the same as it was yesterday, “Lord Bless This House”!