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Rev. Shed Barksdale 1917 – 1925
The official beginning of New Zion Baptist Church was April 8, 1917 when Blacks from the south migrated to Beloit, Wisconsin. At that time, worship services were held outdoors with Sunday afternoon services convening on the Fairbanks Morse hillside near Pleasant and Lawton Streets. Later, members held services in congregant’s homes and/ or gathered in a room situated over a garage overlooking the east bank of Rock River, south of St. Paul Catholic Church. Rev. Shed Barksdale accepted the first pastoral position for the congregation and faithfully served until 1925.
Rev. George W. Bowen 1925 – 1927
Rev. Burgess 1927 – 1929
In December 1925, Rev. George W. Bowen was called to pastor New Zion. During his two-year pastoral term, New Zion purchased the property on the corner of Merrill and Third Streets. The first church structure was then purchased from Branigan’s Coal and Ice Company and the “Old Ice House” was moved to the vacant lot at 110 Merrill Avenue. In 1927, Rev. Bowen decided to return to the south. To fill the gap, Rev. Burgess of Bethel Baptist Church served as interim pastor for the next two years.
Rev. Ogiss Dillon 1929 – 1957
Rev. D.W. Johnson Jan/1957 – June 1957
In December 1929, New Zion’s pastoral role was filled by Rev. Ogiss Dillon, of Emmanuel Baptist Church. He served New Zion for 28 years and is credited with implementation of numerous structural changes to the building which still exists. In 1945, the loan on the property was paid in full; given progressive church growth, New Zion concluded that the “Old Ice House” was no longer adequate to accommodate congregants. In 1949, a building fund was started raising funds for a new church edifice. In November 1953, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Wisconsin laid the cornerstone for the new church; a year later in May 1954, the building was dedicated. Rev. Dillon sadly passed away on January 25, 1957; Rev. D. W. Johnson accepted the role of interim pastor in his stead.
Rev. Ulysses S. Pride 1957 – 1990
In July 1957, Rev. U. S. Pride became the fourth pastor of New Zion Baptist Church. His leadership ushered in a renewed period of faith, hope and a fellowship of love. Continued growth supported the purchase of property and construction of a parsonage located on Third Street. In 1962, New Zion rejoiced and praised God for its first mortgage burning ceremony. The church had been paid off. Afterwards, another building fund project was initiated to add a much needed educational unit to the church; in 1967 the three-floor educational building was completed.
Rev. Quincy Siddell 1990 – 1992
In April 1984 church deacons and trustees approved Reverend Pride’s leadership decision to purchase the Waterman School building, located at 1905 Mound Avenue (previously owned by the City of Beloit). This would become the future home of New Zion and better accommodate the church’s progressive membership growth and expansion plans.
Reverend Pride retired from his pastoral leadership position in January 1990 having served the New Zion family for 33 years. He remained however with the congregation as Pastor Emeritus. Reverend Siddell then accepted the offer to serve as interim pastor for the next two years. During this time, the church celebrated its 75th Church Anniversary, and demolition of portions of the Waterman School property began. Plans for the new church edifice were underway.
Rev. Henry A. Gladney 1992 – 2003
Elder Marshall Kent 10/2003 – 11/2004
In 1992, Rev. Henry A. Gladney of Okolona, Mississippi became newly elected pastor of New Zion Baptist Church. With the inspiration of Reverend Pride and financial support from New Zion’s deacons and trustees, groundbreaking for the new edifice was held on July 14, 1993. Re-construction\ renovation of the Waterman School building was completed April 1, 1994; members and friends of New Zion marched from the old location on Merrill to the new church building on April 10, 1994. Reverend Gladney severed his union with New Zion in October 2003. At that time, Elder Marshall Kent a faithful servant of the church, agreed to accept the role as interim pastor and a pastoral search committee was formed.
Rev. James M. Ivy 2005 – Present Day
In November 2004 Reverend James M. Ivy, of Decatur, Georgia was selected as the new church leader; he was installed on Sunday February 20, 2005, becoming the 6th pastor of New Zion Baptist Church. New members were added to the congregation; new ministries were added providing the church with over thirty ministries for its members to be active in the work of the church. In 2006, at the close of the year, the New Zion Church, in response to the pastor’s vision, paid off and ceremonially burned its mortgage thereby freeing the church to financially support more Christ centered ministry.