TEMPLE ZION BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY
Temple Zion Baptist Church was founded in 1905. The initial services were held in a brush arbor. Then, a small frame schoolhouse for colored children was made available to the members until they were able to construct their own building. Brother William Hatten generously donated land for the construction of the church. The site of the original church was located off highway #215, and the first edifice was completed in 1916. Special recognition was given to Rev. Henry Tidwell, Deacons George Ransom, Benny Pickett, Oscar Singleton, Frank Gordon, John Brown, and George Watkins for their diligence and devotion during this developmental phase.
Rev. T. Bailey was the first shepherd of this flock and Rev. Nathan Taylor, who served as pastor for five years, followed him. Rev. Taylor’s dynamic leadership inspired many people to accept Christ as their Savior. After the death of Rev. Taylor, Rev. Herbert Robinson was elected and served as pastor for three and a half years. John Robinson, Arnett Martin, Samuel Ashford, Matthew Singleton, Isaac Davis, John Clark, and Samuel Grant were ordained as deacons during Rev. Robinson’s pastorate. Following Rev. Robinson was Rev. Alfred L. Peterson, who served for seven years. He had a vision to build a new church to accommodate the growing membership. His dream became a reality with the purchase of property on Heyward Brockington Road, but he would relocate before construction was completed.
The Rev. B. Bailey humbly accepted the pastorate and orchestrated the move to our present location. He implemented Vacation Bible School and assisted the staff in initiating the first program. Rev. Bailey relocated and was followed by Rev. R. B. Story who served as pastor for two years. The Rev. Lemuel Jamison was elected in 1958 and served as our guide for thirteen years. On January 11, 1960, Rev. Jamison ordained as deacons, Eugene Ashford, Roosevelt Bookert, Willie Bookert, Ernest Boney, Nathan Singleton, Ruffin Tarver, and Isaac Wilson. During this time Temple was blessed with two female clergy. Mrs. Martha Bookert and Susie B. King were ordained as ministers under the leadership of Rev. Jamison.
During Rev. Jamison’s tenure we acquired land for additional parking spaces and an educational building. Deacon Ernest Boney was a dedicated man of God who devoted himself to making renovations in the church. His time and services are noteworthy, and our history would not be complete without credit being given to him for his service.
In 1971 Rev. James T. Montgomery was elected as our pastor and elevated our church for the first time to a Station Church. During Rev. Montgomery’s thirty years of pastorate, the following persons were ordained as deacons: Eugene Sims, James Kennedy, and Odell Bookert (March 18, 1973), Roosevelt Robinson, Jerry Ratchford (January 1983), Edward Middleton and Curtis Golson ( December 11, 1988), Larry Burton and Reubin Bookert (February 3, 1991), Robert Griffin (January 30, 1994), and Charles Aiken and Frank Goyins (September 15, 1996).
Rev. Joseph Bush, an inspiring and dedicated clergyman, served as assistant pastor for two years. Several ministers were called to discipleship during Dr. Montgomery’s leadership: Eugene Sims, Melzie Robinson, Allene Griffin, Cynthia Fogle, Calvin Morris, Sean Hills, Sonya Brown and Rico Mitchell. For the first time at Temple Zion, on April 4, 1998, two women were elected to serve on the Trustee Board: Sis. Jessie Bookert and Sis. Lucretia Goodwin.
In November of 1996, Rev. Montgomery formed a “Land Search Committee” which included Bro. George Black, Deacon James Kennedy, Trustees Ray Willis, Lee Bowen and Wallace Smith. The initial task was to acquire a segment of land, which would square Temple’s property. With the blessings of God, in 1997, the committee was able to negotiate 73.3 acres of land neighboring the church. The church purchased this property on October 1, 1997, for future development. During Rev. Montgomery’s tenure the following programs were initiated: The Youth Educational Services (YES), The JT Montgomery Choir, Men’s Club, Men’s Day Celebration, Miss Temple Zion Contest, Community Birthday Calendar Drive, Friendship Church, a newsletter, Deaconess Board, Women’s Day Celebration, Male Chorus, Pastor’s Aid Club, Providence Home Project, Station Church and Family & Friends Day.
Other accomplishments include: renovation of the sanctuary, constructing the educational building, publishing our first yearbook, establishing a Day Care Center, constructing the fellowship hall, installation of a new steeple, erecting a canopy from the church building to the fellowship hall and an onsite park. On November 3, 2002 after 30 years of service and devotion, Rev. Dr. James T. Montgomery retired due to his failing health.
Rev. Allene Griffin assumed position of Interim Pastor as we waited patiently for the Lord to send a Shepherd to tend the flock.
On May 16, 2003, after much prayer, and a thorough search, the Lord answered our prayers and sent us a new Shepherd, Rev. Reginald G. Flynn to lead the flock into the new millennium. Rev. Flynn was officially installed as Pastor of Temple Zion Baptist Church on Aug 17, 2003.
Pastor Flynn’s first order of business was to lead the flock in establishing a mission statement in line with the vision God had given him for the church.
The Mission Statement or Dream of Ministry as established by Temple Zion embodies love and a (w) holistic approach to ministry that builds and transforms lives and empowers God’s people in addressing their spiritual, economic, physical, and political needs.
The following persons were ordained as Deacons during Pastor Flynn’s tenure: Stephen Singleton, Samuel Diggs, and Dwight Mangum. On April 13, 2008, Minister Pamela Wyder was ordained by Pastor Flynn. Under Pastor’s Flynn leadership the following new ministries were established: Financial Stewardship & Empowerment Ministry; Computer Technology Training Center; The Brotherhood Ministry; Nurses Healthcare Ministry; Nursery; Hospitality Ministry, Soup Kitchen; Seniors Ministry; Agape Link Newsletter; Transportation Ministry, Audio & Tape Ministry, 3rd Sunday Youth Day and Thursday Noon Day Bible Study. He also refocused and reinvigorated the following ministries: Singles Ministry; Couples Ministry; Youth Ministry and New Members Orientation. He refocused the Annual Family & Friends Day to include the community. The event was renamed the Family, Friends & Community Celebration.
In 2005, Pastor Flynn founded The Nehemiah Project, Inc. under the umbrella of the Temple Zion Baptist Church. The Nehemiah Project Inc. is a non-profit, faith based community development corporation working to empower and make life better for those in the surrounding communities.
On April 13, 2008, Pastor Flynn’s pastorate ended as Shepherd of Temple Zion Baptist Church. He answered the call of God to Pastor a church in his home state of Michigan. The Temple Zion church family prayerfully organized a “Search Committee” and sought God’s answer to our prayers to send a Pastor who has a heart for God and His people.
Isaiah 65.24 says “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
As the church family prayed and stayed together in unity, the Lord again heard our call. On August 20, 2008, Rev. Andre’ T. Melvin was elected the next Shepherd of Temple Zion Baptist Church. Rev. Melvin is originally from Washington, DC. He received his Certificate of Ordination at the Union Grove Baptist Church of Union City, Ga. He is a graduate of Carver Bible College of Atlanta, Ga. with a BA in Biblical Studies and Columbia International University in Columbia, SC with an M Div degree. He is married to Sheresa S. Melvin and they are the proud parents of one son, M. Melvin and one daughter E. Melvin.
Pastor Melvin is passionate about reaching those who are lost and have no relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior. He is the Joshua of this Joshua Generation. For over 100 years, God has allowed Temple Zion to touch the lives of many people, but we know the best is yet to come. There is still much work to be done. We will continue to be a “Voice for Christ in the Community”.