First Mount Zion Baptist Church - Dumfries


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History of First Mount Zion Baptist Church

The Beginning.  In 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, First Mount Zion Baptist Church was organized. At that time the church was known as Mount Zion Baptist Church.  Two years after the end of slavery, the church was born from a desire to give thanks and gratitude to God who enabled many former slaves to exercise their God-given freedom to worship.  The founding members faced many problems.  Money was scarce and a church location and minister were needed.  The members met in their homes while involved in the time-consuming process of land acquisition followed by construction of a building.  After much inquiry, a site located in the Rock Hill Magisterial District of Stafford County, Virginia was chosen.  The founding members worshipped in a log cabin which served as the first church edifice.

The Northern Virginia Baptist Association appointed Reverend Jacob Byrd of Rock Hill, of Stafford, VA, as the first pastor of the church.  The members used the barter system to support him and subsequent ministers.  Rev. Byrd was not ordained, and as a result, early members were baptized by a Reverend Madden.


Early membership included:

Nancy Butler                                                               Sally Williams

Ludwell Butler                                                            Sandy Gibson

William Wanzer                                                          Dan Reid

Ann Johnson                                                               Andrew Whitly & Family

O. Hill                                                                           Marvina Whitly

Aliah Hill                                                                    B. Ann Lucas

Hawkins Johnson (Mr. & Mrs.)                                  Cynthia Burke

Isiah Johnson                                                              James Howard, Sr. (Mr. & Mrs.)

Francis Johnson                                                           Betsy Ann Willis

John Johnson                                                               Mrs. Martha Powers

Noah Grayson                                                 Ollie Williams

Della Grayson                                                 Willis Lucas

Emily Wanzer                                                 Catherine Howard


The newly established church continued to be faced with many challenges.  While Sunday School was ongoing, there was a need to add Bible Study to the ministry.  However, retaining teachers remained a problem.  Since the entire membership had to depend on farming for their livelihood, all of the business meetings and most religious services were held at night.


Brush Arbor Church

The Split in Membership.  A storm of disagreement began to form in 1873 among members of the young church and the effects lingered for many years to come.  After years of on-going arguments between church factions, the first church building was mysteriously destroyed by fire.  The membership split because they could not agree on a location in Stafford County to rebuild.  Court arbitration named the new church First Mount Zion Baptist Church.  After the split, Reverend Jacob Byrd remained as Pastor of First Mount Zion Baptist Church.  Because of the fire, it was necessary to hold services under a brush arbor or in homes until another building could be constructed.  A brush arbor, typical of churches attended by slaves, was a crude shelter with a roof made of tree branches supported by posts.  It included benches and a place for the preacher to stand.  A second frame building was constructed and services were held in it for many years because a few faithful and Christ-centered members continued to worship.  On June 27, 1925, George and Annie Washington deeded a $10.00 parcel of land to the trustees (Thomas E. Williams, George E. Williams, Hugh F. Jennings, and D. O. Butler) of First Mount Zion Baptist Church to be used solely as a cemetery

The early church and some of its members

Members standing outside a frame edifice are:

First Row: Samuel Bell, Beulah Grayson, Lewis Butler, Manora Grayson, Luch Grayson, Morgan Washington. Second Row: James Minor, Manora Tuell, Marion Johnson, Margaret Grayson, Nobel Hill.  Third Row: Judith Toles, Lizzie Washington, Margaret Butler, Sarah Butler, Louisa Willis. Fourth Row: Anna Washington, George Williams, James Butler,
Oscar Butler, Peter Willis, Frank Grayson.


During the first 75 years, the following ministers served First Mount Zion Baptist Church faithfully:

Reverend Jacob Byrd                             Reverend Charles Gibson

Reverend Horace Crutcher                      Reverend Henry Vines

Reverend Richard Jackson                      Reverend William Henry Miller

Reverend William A. Gibson

U.S. Government Acquires First Mount Zion.  It became necessary for the United States Government to acquire land for our national defense.  The church building and grounds were on a portion of the 50,000 acres being acquired for what is now a part of the Marine Corps Base Quantico.  Court documents state that the land being purchased (through eminent domain) from First Mount Zion Baptist Church had not been used for religious purposes since the 2nd day of October, 1942.  On October 16, 1944, trustees (Lewis Lemuel Butler, Samuel Douglas Grayson, Henry Logan Early, and Hugh Franklin Jennings) of First Mount Zion Baptist Church entered into an agreement to convey or transfer First Mount Zion Baptist Church property (3/4 acre) to the Department of Defense for the agreed amount of $2,025.00, signed by the Judge of the Circuit Court of Stafford County, Virginia.  Once again, the First Mount Zion Baptist Church congregation was without a church building or a place to worship.

Although the church had split many years earlier, old wounds had healed, and many First Mount Zion Baptist Church members joined the “sister church,” Mount Zion Baptist Church, located at the time in Joplin, Virginia, —now located in Triangle, Virginia.

“The Little White Church by the Side of the Road”

First Mount Zion (FMZ) Re-Establishment.  In 1947, under the leadership of Deacon Lewis Butler and other deacons and members of the church, FMZ was re-established.  The Reverend Oscar Jackson accepted the call a

s Pastor.  It was under the untiring leadership and building ability of Pastor Jackson that the church began construction in 1947 of “the

little white church by the side of the road”, located on Route 234 in Dumfries, VA.  During the two-year building period, the Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Triangle graciously opened its doors for FMZ members to hold their religious services there.

Two years later, the construction had progressed enough for members to dedicate the edifice and began to worship in their new church.

Rev. Oscar D. Jackson

Headstone for Rev. Oscar Jackson. First Mount Zion Baptist Church Cemetery

One of the milestones in Reverend Jackson’s administration was the ordination of Reverend Hobart Williams, who later became the Assistant Pastor of the church. 


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