Our history


Part 1 - Centennial Observance (1872 - 1972)

As Recorded October 1972 - Reverend A. L. Bell, Moderator



It is by the grace of God that today we are able to look back over these one-hundred years from whence we have come.  We can all truthfully say with the psalmist of old, "The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."  We thank God for giving our ancestors the wisdom, love, loyalty, and above all faith to overcome the many, many obstacles that were encountered in pressing on toward the plateau upon which we stand today.  The struggles, heartaches and disappointments of those faithful servants were not in vain, for we will never forget our very rich heritage and history.

It is altogether impossible to write the history of the Zion Association without including the history of the late Reverend Joe Ratliff, and the Deep Creek Baptist Church, for he was the illustriuous founder of both.

The Deep Creek Baptist Church was organized in 1866 by the late Reverend Joe Ratliff, who was born a slave but had faith in God and confidence in his people.  He realized when quite young that he was to preach the gospel, so he got himself a Bible and used every method to learn to read.  One night when he thought it was safe, he took his Bible out and began to read.  His master, Captain Billy Ratliff, caught him and he threw the Bible under the bed.  Captain Billy retrieved the Bible and assisted "Uncle Joe" Ratliff, as he was affectionately called, in his quest for knowledge.

From 1870 through 1885 Reverend Joe Ratliff was so moved with the spirit of enlightening his people until he secured men to teach night classes, and organized a school giving instruction during the day.  The desire to better serve his fellowman motivated the organization of the Zion Association in the year of our Lord, 1872.  He loved the Deep Creek Church, and the school that was supported entirely by the Zion Association for he organized all three.

The early pastors of the Zion Association caught the zeal of their leader and built a permanent home for the school.  In the year of 1903, the first principal, Professor E. H. Lipscombe, a graduate of Shaw University was elected.  He was accompanied by his good wife, Mrs. L. L. Lipscombe, who was elected as his assistant.  The school opened for the reception of students in October of the same year.  After four years of faithful service, the principal's health failed and he was called home to be with God.  In the fall of 1907, the Reverend Richard Allen was elected and served for two school terms.  Then under the direction of Divine providence, the brethren and the late Reverend Joe Ratliff succeeded in securing the services of the late Reverend J. R. Faison, a graduate of Shaw University.

The school, Zion Academy, served its generation well and met the educational needs of the people until the time that the State of North Carolina entered into the field of educating Blacks beyond the elementary school level.  The Academy was instrumental in awakening a desire as well as supplying a need in the education of hundreds of boys and girls.  When Anson County offered high schools for Blacks, the Academy was phased out of existence and its principal, Reverend J. R. Faison, became an able administrator in the public schools. 

From the far-reaching vision of one man, the Zion Association has producted many prominent ministers, some of whom has merited national and international recognition.  Her rolls can boast of physicians, dentists, lawyers, teachers, farmers, and scores of successful businessmen and women.

Much of the credit for the progress made by the Zion Association must go to the commitment and dedication of its officers across the years.

Listed here are the names and dates of service as Moderator:

Reverend Joe Ratliff (Founder):  1872 - 1911; Reverend J. E P. Little:  1912 - 1928; Reverend J. W. Diggs:  1929 - 1951; Rverend E. H. Martin:  1952 - 1959; Reverend J. L. Little:  1960 - 1962; Reverend B. A. Allen:  1963 - 1965: Reverend A. L. Bell:  1966 -

Recording Secretaries:  Mr. A. L. Leak 1899 - 1948; Mr. V. L. Horne  1949 - 1956; Mr. E. H. McCoy 1957 - 1958; Mr. T. R. Little 1959; Mrs. E. W. Dixon 1960 -

Corresponding Secretaries:  Mr. G. W. Baucum 1911 - 1951; Reverend. W. N. Dean 1952 - 1959; Mr. E. H. Covington; 1960 -

Treasurers:  Mr. Ralph Sellers (Date Unknown); Reverend B. B. Sturdivant (Date Unknown); Mr. M. P. Waring 1940 - 1941; Mr. James Bennett 1942 - 1958; Mr. Freeman Chambers 1959; Mr. E. R. N. Crawford 1960 -

The following men served with distinction as Directors of Religious Education:  Reverend  E. H. Martin; Reverend J. R. Faison; Reverend J. C. Robinson; Reverend W. H. Gatewood; Reverend C. J. Evans

The Zion Sunday School Convention was organized in the year of 1892 as an auxiliary to the Zion Association.  The Reverend John F. Davis, a leading educator of his day was the first president.  He served several churches of the Association, and was one of the first to provide equal educational opportunities for his family.  Following his tenure of service, the following were elected:

Reverend J. T. Ratliff; Reverend J. A. Little; Reverend C. L. Chambers, who is now leading our ranks to greater heights.

The Woman's Home and Foreign Missionary Auxiliary to the Zion Association was organized in the year 1904 at the New Zion Baptist Church, Peachland, North Carolina.  This was done under the dynamic leadership of Reverend Joe Ratliff who was serving as Moderator at the time.  Mrs. Annie C. Robinson was the first president; Mrs. Cora B. Horne, recording secretary; Mrs. Henrietta Diggs, treasurer.  The following women were charter members:

Mesdames Cornelia Boulware, M. F. Little, Hattie Bivens, Alice Hilliard, Elma Ingram, Fannie Simon, Carrie Polk, Lula Huntley, Ethel Sellers, Ollie Ratliff, M. J. Huntley, Ann Watts, Hattie B. Watts, and Annie Martin.  At the end of Mrs. Annie C. Robinson's term of office, the following women served:

Mrs. Emma Williams 1956 - 1958; Mrs. J. A. Little 1959 -

The Zion Church Union is the youngest of all her auxiliaries.  The meetings are held quarterly on the Saturday before the fifth Sunday.  Through the Union, the fellowship among the churches is maintained and nourished. 

Grateful appreciation is expressed here for the love, loyalty, devotion, and sacrifice that have been manifested by all of the constituents of the Zion Association over the past one-hundred years.  The progress made both spiritually and materially has been the result of sincere and untiring efforts to promote the cause of Christianity.  Our history has been a very interesting and unfolding story that had its beginnings in a dream of Uncle Joe Ratliff, whose ending lies within the hands of God.

Of our great founder, and the other leaders of the past who hold in high tribute, and for whom we find inadequate our ability to express herewith our regard and admiration, there is none more esteemed, even to the present day that our good Moderator and untiring friend, the Reverend A. L. Bell.  Together we have joined hands and hearts that through our stewardship, men might acknowledge the fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of all men.

"Truth never dies.

The ages come and go;

The mountains wear away;

The stars retire;

Destruction lays earth's might cities low;

And empires, states, and dynasties expire;

But,caught and handed onward by the wise,

Truth never dies."

William Cullen Bryant


 **Note:  Dr. William Marvin Ratliff wrote the complete history of Deep Creek Church., Zion Association and the biography of Reverend Joe Ratliff, his uncle.


THE HISTORY (1972- 2008)

By the blessedness of God's might, power, and marvelous providence, the history of the Zion Missionary Baptist Association continues.  Framed by a mustard seed of faith, we are a testament of the early faith and hope of God's people.  Our history is a formal profession of faith, hope, and commitment represented by this historical movement.

We thank God and honor those who were able to recall some of the persons and events that have shaped our historical and spiritual heritage.  It must always be remembered that we build on the lives of those who have preceded us.  Therefore, the success of the Association has been made possible by the contributions of those sainted ones. 

Listed are the names and dates of service (when possible) of those concerned and committed workers who walked by faith and those who still, through untiring efforts, continue to take the Association to higher heights.

Moderators:  Reverend A. L. Bell (1966-1987); Reverend J. N. Coble (1987-1992); Reverend W. W. Williams (1992-1996); Reverend H. W. Campbell (1996-2000); Reverend L. W. Leake (2000-2004); Reverend W. R. Ellerbe (2004-2008).

Recording Secretaries:  Mrs. E. W. Dixon (1960 - ); Sister Helen Cureton (1992-1996); Minister Dorothy Doster (1996-1999); Sister Amelia Polk (1999-2004); Sister Norma Tillman (2004-Present)

Corresponding Secretaries:  Mr. E. H. Covington (1960 - ); Sister Dora R. Marsh (? - 1984); Sister Carol Spencer (1984-2000); Sister Fredonia Massey (2000-2008)

Treasurers:  Mr. E. R. N. Crawford (1960 - ?); Brother Willie Barrett (? - 2000); Sister Charlene McCormick (2000-Present)

Christian Education Directors:  Reverend R. E. Blount, Reverend J. N. Coble; Rev. Louis Blakney; Reverend Richard Graham

Sunday School & BTU Congress Presidents:  Reverend C. L. Chambers (1956-1975); Reverend J. C. Robinson (1975-1989); Reverend J. Powe, Sr. (1989-1993); Reverend R. E. Blount (1993-1996); Brother William Kluttz (1996-2000); Reverend Dale Jordan (2000-2004); Reverend J. Van Clyburn (2004-2008)

Woman's Auxiliary Presidents:  Sister Dollie Sullivant (? - 1988); Sister Dorothy Capel (1988-1992); Sister M. R. Bell (1992-1996); Sister Jessie Blakeny (1996-2000); Reverend Colene Ellerbe (2000-2004); Reverend Georgia Covington (2004-2006); Sister Brenda Leake (2006-2008);


It is our aim to give tribute to all officers of Zion for their perseverance.  Therefore, as a future goal, other auxiliary officers will be recognized.


We thank God for you!

Other Zion Highlights:


*Zion Discipleship School--Anson and Union County Classes

*Annual Zion Picnic

*Founder's Day Book Published--pictures of all pastors and churches and their history

*Framed pictures of Founder and all Moderators at Deep Creek Baptist Church

*Moderator's Banquet--Recognition of Past Moderators and Zionite Service Awards

**Noteburning held on Saturday, October , 2006, at the Zion Homesite located in Marshville, North Carolina under the administration of Moderator Walter R. Ellerbe.  Many Zionites witnessed this occasion as this represented that our land purchase was paid in full.