Our History


Since its inception, Zion Baptist Church has been dedicated to following God. The church began in 1861 with a handful of loyal baptized believers. These believers trusted God’s plan as they moved from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Washington, DC to lay the groundwork for our future. In 1864, Zion grew from an empowering Sunday school, into a community-driven church. Since then, our faith has consistently grown to love God more than anything, and to serve Him by loving others. Since 1864 and through the leadership of eight other gifted pastors, Zion has been steadfast in service to God and His community; we are encouraged and thankful for God’s grace and faithfulness to us and for the visionary humanitarian, Reverend Dr. Keith W. Byrd, Sr., whom He sent as our ninth pastor in January 2006.


1861 – Reverend George Jackson, Isaac Johnson, John Shippen, Susan Thompson, Ann Walker, Reverend William Walker and Letitia Williams Richardson journeyed from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Washington, DC trusting God in His vision for the future Zion Baptist Church.

1863 – A Sunday school was started at the home of Reverend George Jackson, the organizer and teacher, who taught reading, writing, and arithmetic as he addressed the spiritual needs of his members.

1864 – Reverend William Walker baptized nine other believers (Harriet Bland, Betty Branson, Maria Dixon, Jane Gwynn, Susan Landon, Hannah Matthews, Henry Conway, Nelson Elliott and Andrew Jackson) and together the 16 formed themselves into the church – naming it Zion – in remembrance of their travels.

1867 – The congregation purchased Simpson’s Feed Store at F Street between Third and Fourth Streets, SW, a location chosen by Reverend Walker.

1870 – A new church was erected at the Feed Store site and that edifice was further enhanced in 1891.

1956 – Zion remained at the location on 337 F Street, SW for the next 65 years until the DC Redevelopment Land Agency claimed the property in 1956.

1962 – Zion worshiped at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA on Rhode Island Avenue, NW until 1962, when the Blagden Avenue Church was completed.