By Lance Hickey
Leicester – In our time covering local churches in our Where We Worship series, we uncovered many congregations creating impact across their respective communities.
The local church, admittedly, isn’t always well-esteemed by every resident, but the difference churches make in the area has been proven to be invaluable for many who need help. From clothing to food, we have found a score of local churches reaching out to those in need.
Zion Hill Baptist Church is not an exception and serves as the place of worship we had the opportunity to cover in this week’s edition of our Where We Worship series.
Founded in 1867, the congregation recently celebrated 152 years of service to the Leicester community. The church began with 18 charter members. There have been 37 pastors who have served as the congregation’s pastor in the 150-plus years of the church’s existence.
Bobby Smith has served as pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church for nearly 14 years, replacing Michael Scroggs, who served as pastor for 11 years. Married to wife, Sharon, Smith has been in ministry for almost 40 years. The couple have one adult son and a grandchild.
I attended service on October 27 with it beginning at 10:30 as the congregation filled in the pews of the sanctuary. The outside bell rang. Service officially began as congregants eagerly found their seats and the pianist played the Sunday morning prelude.
The congregation sang the call to worship, titled “He Set Me Free,” before Smith stepped to the pulpit to relay the church announcements and welcome the congregation. A time for prayer ensued and a multitude of parishioners stepped forward to the altar to pray.
A time came for the church choir to sing the hymnals designated for this week’s service. Following the first hymn, the choir emphatically sang “The Unseen Hand” and “Jesus Is Coming Soon.” Parishioners worshipped, standing to their feet.
As the congregation worshipped, I began to glance around the room. The ambiance of the room proved to be quite pleasant. Eight stained-glass windows surrounded the sanctuary. Traditional, modest chandeliers hung from the ceiling. A painting of mountains hung from a back wall of the stage. An American flag and a Christian flag stood at both stage right and stage left.
Following the church offering and a time for fellowship, the time came for the church pianist to play “Amazing Grace” as parishioners worshipped from their respective pews.
Smith stepped forward to deliver his Sunday morning sermon. Dressed in a nice pair of slacks and a black sports coat, Smith spoke on being in the will of God and maintaining peace in life. He presented his case with passion. The congregation attentively took in every word. Once Smith completed the presentation of his message, the invitation was given and service dismissed.
Service was traditional in its presentation. The church’s primary focus is on its members and the Leicester community. Part of its desire to help the community is a food drive the church continues to hold through December.
The food drive supports ministries such as Hearts with Hands and the Baptist Disaster relief. The congregation also holds various weekly events for elderly neighbors in the community. With its desire to continue to help a community with unique needs such as Leicester, look for Zion Hill to continue creating an impact across the area.