OUR HISTORY

 

Little Zion Church started with several men attending a small Bible Class led by Civil War Veteran, First Sergeant Joseph Wells. The men, known as the Boys in Blue, held meetings in a barn on Main Street in the Village of Belleville.  In 1881, Augustus Sloan, also a Civil War Veteran and Joseph Wells, along with William Sloan and Henry Sloan, residents of Belleville, met to discuss the need for a place of religious worship to minister to the Negro residents. This meeting led to the calling together of a group of men and women that paved the way for the church.

 

At her invitation, Mrs. Nettie Sisco held an organizational meeting in her home located on the corner of Isaac and John Streets in Belleville. This meeting led to the founding of The Belleville Sunday School Mission. The charter members were: Mrs. Hannah Peterson, Mrs. Owens, Mrs. Nettie Sisco, Mrs. Amelia Sloan, Mr. and Mrs. Bakeman, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Brown, Augustus Sloan, Henry Sloan, William Sloan, William Wells, and Joseph Wells.

 

The Mission grew rapidly and soon became affiliated with the Union American Methodist Episcopal Conference. Property was purchased at 154-156 Stephens Street from Catherine and Charles F. Stoltz with a deed transfer on March 2, 1886. That same year, plans were outlined to obtain the capital to build a church. The foundation was built by Benjamin Brown and later that year, Augustus Sloan purchased an unused boat house from the Neriod Boat Club on the banks of the Passaic River. This boat house was moved, intact, to its present location and in 1888 the cornerstone was laid. Although limited finances were of great concern, the costs were met through generous contributions from the four founding fathers and Mrs. Amelia Sloan.

 

Rev. David M. Wells, a Civil War Veteran, served as Little Zion’s first pastor. His brother, Joseph, followed with many years of leadership. The assistance of many members from the Dutch Reform and Wesley Methodist Churches is noted throughout our church history. Family ties have also played an important part in keeping the doors of Little Zion open through the years.

 

In 1976, the congregation of Little Zion embraced the members of Harmon Church, later merging into one body under the pastorates of Rev. Prince Hamilton and Rev. John Williams.

 

The members continue to serve the community in the original building with a spirit of determination, commitment to its founders, and faith in the Heavenly Father. Today, as they labor in Christ, their desire is that the weary traveler might find their way “To the house of prayer for all people.”