Local church celebrates 75th anniversary

Zion Memorial Missionary Baptist Church celebrated its 75th anniversary last Saturday at the Benton Convention Center.

Local church celebrates 75th anniversary
December 19
03:00 2019

Zion Memorial Missionary Baptist Church rolled out the red carpet last Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Benton Convention Center in honor of their 75th anniversary.

The planning committee looked at other locations, but none fit their vision of what they wanted to do. Only the convention center could hold the over 300 guests they were expecting. Planning began early in the year and everything came together for one glorious night in December.

“I feel proud to see all the people we have been expecting to attend and I have really enjoyed working with the planning committee,” said Shaketha Rorie, anniversary chairperson. “It was an enrichment and it was more than just planning, it was learning for me.

“We started throwing out ideas of where we wanted to have it and we were going to be at the Marriot, but we said, ‘Let’s think bigger.’ We are a small church, but we have big events and it has really grown. What we have envisioned has come to fruition.”

Rorie said it was “worth every minute” of the planning process to see the event come together in such grand fashion.  

Zion Memorial went all out on the entertainment and recognitions as well. A Christian comedian, a gospel quartet, special recognitions, and a guest speaker with a familiar face were a part of the celebration.

Rev. Dennis W. Wiley was the guest speaker for the anniversary celebration. His father was the second pastor for Zion Memorial during the 1950s and 60s. Rorie said it was intentional bringing Wiley back for this celebration as he is “tied into the history,” she said. Wiley not only spoke, but also performed a musical selection as well. He is the recently retired pastor of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C.

“It feels wonderful, in fact I am pleasantly surprised. After being away so long, I didn’t know I would run into so many people who remembered me and would be so glad to see me as I am to see them,” said Wiley of his return to the city. “Zion Memorial has always stayed in my heart, even though my father was called to a church in Washington.

“I am glad to see that this church, that has always had a warm and loving spirit, is continuing to do great work in this community, this city and this world we live in.”

Wiley’s message of “how it feels to come back home” was the perfect message for the night.  

“The joy of coming back home is really what I wanted to talk about,” said Wiley. “I wanted to talk about how important that is that we are able to come back home. So many people for various reasons are not able to do so and if they do, they are not appreciated for who they are, so I just wanted to encourage people to have a family spirit that is such a major part of why people like to come back together, to feel a sense of connection, community and family.”

Zion Memorial Senior Pastor Rev. Randell A. Cain Jr. was on cloud nine during the anniversary event.  

“It is an incredible amount of joy, because there is a reunion atmosphere here,” said Cain. “This is an anniversary for the church, but it’s like a homecoming. We are seeing so many people who used to be associated with the church, some of them traveled far, some are still in the city, as well as those who are a part of the current Zion.”

Cain said it was inspiring to see the church stay around for 75 years.  

“While we can see and hear what is happening now, when I think about standing here and looking backwards, then when I turn around and think about the future with God leading us, I don’t know what God is going to birth and do, but I know we are going to be impressed by how God uses us,” Cain continued.

“We are not trying to be the church for everybody, but we want to be a church that people can look at and say, ‘That is the way church is supposed to be done.’”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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