Church History

The New Zion Baptist Church of Winona, Texas was founded June 16, 1870. Some of its founders were Simon Moore, I, George Miller, Steve Arps and Pete Jones. The Church began at Kay Cemetery, which is about one mile north on Highway 155. This was only a wagon road at the time. The Church started worshipping under a brush arbor.

In 1875, the church moved to Van Spring location, southeast of Winona, Texas. In 1880, the church moved again, this time to the Florence Kay Place. In 1885, Mrs. Mary Kay sold the church two and one-half acres northwest of Winona, adjoining the Butler-McClung tract. There a church was built. The first public school for Blacks in Winona was held in the New Zion Baptist Church. In 1901, a new church was built on this tract of land. The old building was sold to Johnny Roberson.

The Pastors on record are: Rev. Dee Jackson, Rev. R. Finnell and Rev. Talford, Rev. R. Finnell returned as the third pastor of New Zion. During Finnell’s second pastorate, Simon Moore, II joined the church. The fourth pastor was Rev. Jeff Brown, serving from 1920 to 1922. Then Reverends May Weather, C.H. Fuller, J.D. Shaw, L.C. McClendon. From 1925-1929 Rev. B.L. Smith. Rev. S.A. Jones was pastor in charge for about one year. From 1934-1937, W.H. Harris served, during this time the church would hold elections yearly. From January 1938 to July of 1938, Rev. S.A. Jones was again pastor in charge. In July 1938, Rev. J.J. Johnson became pastor of the New Zion Baptist Church and served until his death in December 1974. Rev. Johnson served longer than any pastor up to this time.

Rev. Simon Moore, II served nine months as pastor in charge after the death of Rev. J.J. Johnson. In September 1975, Rev. N.L. Square became the pastor and served six years and six months. In July 1982, Dr. S.L. Curry, Jr. was elected and became the fifteenth pastor of New Zion Baptist Church.

Since the beginning of New Zion thirteen (13) ministers have been called to the ministry. They were: Reverends S.A. Jones, Charlie Arps, Cornelius Arps, R.B. Francis, Frank Rebbi, Rev. Jeffrey, Scip Edwards, Simon Moore, II, E.T. Bell, Ralph E. Caraway, Sr., Donald Hampton, Tony Billington and Willie McCloud. Other Associate Ministers who have served under Pastor Curry’s leadership are Rev. Larry George, Rev. Larry Lane, Rev. Darso Robertson, Rev. Therell Cook, Rev. Brian Harris and Rev. Daryl Whiting.

Twenty-five deacons have been ordained: Brothers Steve Arps, Johnny Roberson, Simon Moore, I, George Miller, Simon Moore, II, Joshua Bell, Van Bell, Claude Bell, Mathis Ship, Herdon Johnson, Lepolian Bowie, Jasper Lawrence, Luke Arps, Mellie Arps, Columbus Arps, Will O. Arps, Melvin Hampton, Simon Moore, III, Harvey L. Mayfield, Ray Freeman, Jr., Jessie L. Porter, Sr. , Ralph E. Caraway, Sr., Roosevelt Petty, Jr., Jessie Butler and Larry Hampton. Deacon Lee Earnest Choice came to New Zion Baptist Church from New Hope Baptist Church, Gladewater, Texas, Deacon Charlie Richmond, Jr. came to us from Christ Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, Deacon Howard Hawkins came to New Zion from St. Peter’s Baptist Church, Hempstead, Texas and Deacon Willie Wright came to us from God’s Will Baptist Church, Tyler, Texas.

The first secretary of the church was Brother John D. Davis. Others were by Allen Lane, Jasper Yarbrough, Bud Green, Claude Bell, Johnny Roberson, Mathis Ship, Jasper Lawrence, Gertrude Lawrence, S.A. Jones and Simon Moore, III. The first treasurer on record was Brother Jack Smith in 1930. Then Brothers B. Smith, Bro. Lawrence, Luke Arps & Will O. Arps. Financial secretaries have been Sisters Beatrice Miller, Johnny Blaylock and Georgie Jones. In 1946-47, Deacon Will O. Arps, Deacon Simon Moore, II, & Deacon Simon Moore, III reconstructed the old building by adding a front porch and two classrooms. In 1970, under the leadership of the late Rev. J.J. Johnson, our church was reconstructed again by James Hampton Construction. The church was expanded by adding two bathrooms, started a new kitchen, new floors, remodeled the pastor’s study, enlarged the pulpit and choir stand.

Under the leadership of Rev. N.L. Square 46 members were added and one (1) Deacon ordained. We purchased new pews, carpet, pulpit furniture, a water fountain, a new pastor’s desk, a baptizing pool and two new choirs were formed. The Youth and Young Adult Choirs with Sis. Marjorie Green as musician. Under the leadership of our present Pastor, Dr. S. L. Curry, Jr. the following have been accomplished: 1) The Church became full time on the first Sunday in August 1982. 2) The Sunday School has grown from 4 classes with an average attendance of 26 per Sunday to 18 classes with an average attendance of 135 per Sunday. Also under the leadership of Rev. S.L. Curry, Jr. over 400 members have been added to the New Zion Baptist Church Family with over 250 by baptism; the church has over 30 active ministries.

Also, in 1985, under the leadership of Reverend S. L. Curry, Jr., a new church was built. The pastor and members marched from the old church to the new church singing “We’ve Come This Far By Faith”. The old church was sold to the County Line Church of God in Christ. Under the leadership of Rev. Curry, two more choirs were formed, an addition of two mission departments, a new van was purchased in September 1983 and another new van in 1988, and a part-time secretary was hired. In December 1994 at a Quarterly Business Meeting, the Deacons and Trustees made a motion to purchase the land on the southside of the existing church. The land was purchased in 1995. In 1998, under the leadership and vision of Dr. S. L. Curry, Jr., a new facility was started and completed in February 1999. The new facility has seating for 800, which includes seating for 200 in the balcony.

The church as had many trials during its long history; so did JESUS during the three years of his ministry (age 30-33). The devil tried many times; but JESUS would always win. We have members that have moved away but will remember this church as their beginning and helped some of them to find the light. That light is JESUS!