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The 1st Histprically Black Church Essay

2352 words - 10 pages

I came up with my Senior Project topic while sitting at the dinner table on my vacation in Delaware this summer. I was watching Sunday Best, a Gospel singing contest, and of the contents said that they attended Mount Zion Baptist Church. Though not my church, it still was eye opening because not seconds before, I was speaking with my friend Mackenzie, my Aunt and her friends about college and Senior Project. When the words “Mount Zion” entered my ears, a light came on in my head. I literally stood up from the table and said, “I know what I am doing for Senior Project!” I ran to find paper to write down my objectives and even called my mother to see what she thought of the idea. I could ...view middle of the document...

The section is still known as Freedmen’s Village, with just a few facts, I became even more exciting about doing my project.
My senior project journey began with my first objective - internet research. I found very little information on the internet, and what I did find was on the church’s website. The majority of my research came from the Alexandria and Arlington libraries. I also read THE FIVE AND TEN CENT CHURCH by Dr. E. C. Smith. Dr. Smith was a Baptist minister and the father of one of Mount Zion’s former minister. His book tells the story of the emotional journey of the Black church slavery to the modern 20th century. As the title implies, members would give whatever they had to keep the running – often only nickels and dimes. Both libraries provided materials for many hours of research I will talk about what I learned in the libraries in the later part of the essay.
Since my first objective is internet research, I will talk about I learned on the internet. From my church’s website (Mount Zion Baptist Church - Our History), I learned that Mount Zion was originally called “The Old Bell Church”. After the Civil War, a number of former slaves banded together to establish a Baptist church in Freedman’s Village. The village was located near the present Arlington National Cemetery. The members worshipped under the leadership of the Rev. Robert S. Laws. Later, the federal government forced the church to leave Freedman’s Village and they settled in nearby Alexandria County, which is now Arlington County, Virginia. Property was purchased on Arlington Ridge Road. The members changed the name to Mount Zion Baptist Church and built a new church. With the departure of Rev. Laws, Rev. Joseph Matthews was chosen as the second pastor. From 1881-1940, four men served as pastor. In 1914, Rev. James E. Green became pastor and served for 36 years In 1930, a new church was built on the Arlington Ridge road site. In 1942, the church was seized and condemned by the government in order to build more roads leading to the Pentagon. For almost three years, worship services were held in Stevens Odd Fellows Hall on Columbia Pike. The Sheraton Hotel is now on this site. Later, property was purchased at 19th and S Lowell streets. A new church was built and opened for worship in 1945 following the death of Rev. Green in 1950, three men served as “supply” pastors. Rev. Oswald G. Smith was chosen as pastor in 1952 and served for 39 years. Membership increased and the church became more involved in the local community. After the retirement of Rev. Smith in 1991, the members elected the current pastor Rev. Leonard N. Smith (no relations to Rev. Oswald Smith).
My next objective was to visit the site of Freedman’s Village; I did this on a church trip on February 8th, 2014. While on the trip I took lots of pictures that will be displayed in my PowerPoint as well as my movie. The tour began at my church, where the church’s historian gave a brief overview...

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