150 years and ‘Too many good memories to count’: Acworth church celebrates anniversary with banquet, services starting July 8
by Ellen Eldridge
July 05, 2014 12:47 AM | 2066 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Zion Hill Church Pastor Dr. Frank Johnson Jr., right, and Church Deacon Doyal Hill are preparing for the 150th anniversary celebration in July at the landmark Acworth church. The celebration begins with a revival July 8 through 10 at 7 p.m., followed by a banquet July 12 at 6 p.m. The official anniversary celebration begins during Sunday worship services at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. <br> Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Zion Hill Church Pastor Dr. Frank Johnson Jr., right, and Church Deacon Doyal Hill are preparing for the 150th anniversary celebration in July at the landmark Acworth church. The celebration begins with a revival July 8 through 10 at 7 p.m., followed by a banquet July 12 at 6 p.m. The official anniversary celebration begins during Sunday worship services at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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Church Clerk Pamela Curry posts a flyer on the church bulletin board Friday to remind parishioners of the upcoming 150th anniversary celebration.
Church Clerk Pamela Curry posts a flyer on the church bulletin board Friday to remind parishioners of the upcoming 150th anniversary celebration.
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Zion Hill Church Pastor Dr. Frank Johnson, Jr. and his wife, First Lady and Anniversary Chairman Velyna, stand inside the historical Acworth church with Beverly Patton, Deacon Doyal Hill, church clerk Pamela Curry, Annie Chaney and Florence Bates.
Zion Hill Church Pastor Dr. Frank Johnson, Jr. and his wife, First Lady and Anniversary Chairman Velyna, stand inside the historical Acworth church with Beverly Patton, Deacon Doyal Hill, church clerk Pamela Curry, Annie Chaney and Florence Bates.
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ACWORTH — The Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Acworth is celebrating 150 years of “God’s faithfulness,” said Velyna Connor Johnson, chair of the 150th anniversary committee.

The celebration begins with a revival July 8 through 10 at 7 p.m., followed by a banquet July 12 at 6 p.m. and the official anniversary celebration during Sunday worship services at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets for the banquet are $25 per person.

Zion Hill was founded in 1864 by former slaves under the pastorate care of the Rev. Jerry Jones. The Baptist church shared its building by alternating with a Methodist church every other Sunday, Johnson said.

“The current building on Taylor Street was created in 1914, and we still have the original baptismal pool in the front yard,” Beverly Patton said.

The building boasts a plaque dedicating the building’s construction in 1916. The church building was originally built with wood and then bricked over in 1916, Patton said.

Patton is the fifth generation of family members in the church.

Patton’s two aunts, Lorene Rice Worthy, 85, and Florence Rice Bates, 82, still serve on the Mother’s Board, “giving wisdom and knowledge to the younger generations,” Patton said.

Bates said she returned to the family church about a year ago and has “too many good memories to count.”

“My memory is based on my family,” Bates said. “My mom was a member and of her 14 children, Lorene and I are all that’s left.”

Patton’s mother, Corrie Rice Griffin, was born in 1922 as the seventh of 14 children. Patton said her mother was instrumental in the community until her death at age 77, in 1999, and won a citizen award for community service in 2011.

“When she talked, everybody listened,” Patton said. “I followed in her footsteps.”

Patton said she served as church clerk for 37 years, and currently serves as an usher. Her many fond memories of the church include its leaders such as former Acworth City Council member Doyal Hill as well as members in the “tight-knit” community, she said.

One fond memory involves Patton’s mother taking her and her sister to church.

“My mother used to send me and my sister to wait on Deacon (Amos) Durr to teach Sunday school,” Patton said, noting that Durr worked as a deacon for 70 years before being called into the ministry at the age of 94.

“He kept the church running,” Patton said. “Pastors came and went, but he was constant.”

Patton said she always considered Durr a minister because he knew the Bible so well.

The church maintains a membership of about 150, Patton said, with anywhere from 60 to 70 people visiting weekly.

The community still gets together on Sundays, Patton said, though fewer people live in the immediate vicinity. Her pride extends to the legacy of long life many church members have enjoyed including two members who lived more than 100 years: Hazel Kilgore, 97, who is still active on the Mother’s Board; Eunice Kemp, 93; Evelyn Gragg, who died in 2011 at age 103; and Olivia Chestnutt, who died in 2011 at age 105.

Patton said Chestnutt “relied on none other than the lord, and was medicine free 12 years before she died, never even taking so much as a Tylenol.”

“I can look back and know my family has been there from the beginning and we still have family there now,” Patton said.

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