New Zion constructs new church on Union Street
At the corner of Adams and Union streets a new place of worship is being built for a congregation that began worshipping in the early 1950s in a brush arbor.
The New Zion Church of God in Christ currently located at 4053 Highway 550 in Caseyville will be moving into a newly constructed church at 1107 Union St. in Brookhaven near the end of July.
Pastor Dennis Williams Sr. said he grew up as member of the church and has been the pastor for the past five years. He said the move to Brookhaven is to accommodate the congregation’s growth.
The history of New Zion COGIC starts in 1952 with the construction of a brush arbor on the land that New Zion COGIC currently sits on. Brush arbors were structures made from wood with roofs made some type of straw, leaves or brush that first served as temporary means of shelter but were later converted to outdoor churches.
New Zion’s history includes nightly services held under this brush harbor where attendees used buckets and planks of wood to make their seating. The church’s evangelist at the time, A. Beavins – a man from Jackson – returned to Caseyville with a tent that served as a meeting place until the church was built.
New Zion’s first constructed church was built on an acre of land given by William Pierce. The trees on the property were cut down, taken to Bart Calcote Sawmill and turned into lumber to build the church.
The first pastor of New Zion COGIC was S.A. Lindsey of McComb in November 1954. As the years passed and Methodist, Baptist and Triumph churches in the area faded away, the New Zion COGIC congregation grew. The music of New Zion COGIC featured the sounds of horns, cymbals, guitars, bugles and drums. Members of the church were baptized in a nearby pond. During this time Frank Smith of McComb and Jessie and Mary Smith of Brookhaven led the church.
In 1975 the church was handed over into the leadership of Ernest Wilcher of Brookhaven who served as the pastor for 36 years. Under his leadership the church was refurbished in 2009. In 2011 Wilcher turned leadership over to his son, the current pastor, Dennis Williams Sr.
The new church will be named Greater New Zion Church of God in Christ.