A long history of God's faithfulness
Between 1705 and 1775, persecution, drought, and famine drove 500,000 Scotch Presbyterians from North Ireland to America, along with Huguenots from France, the Dutch, and Puritans from England. Many of them found their way to the Williamsburg District of South Carolina, where a church was formally organized in August, 1736.
In 1782, the Reverend Samuel Kennedy, a native of Ireland, came as minister of Williamsburg church. He openly denied the divinity of Christ and ultimately split the church. The orthodox minority destroyed the church building and reorganized under the name of Bethel. In 1803 they completed and occupied a new house of worship one mile east of Kingstreet. One of the pastors of Bethel was Reverend James White Stephson, D.D., a veteran of the Revolutionary War, who would later become the first pastor of Zion Presbyterian Church.
On March 25, 1805, four families from the Bethel Congregation left Williamsburg, They arrived in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 8, and settled in the area of Franklin. On March 6, 1806, a second exodus of ten additional families left for Tennessee and arrived at Franklin.
In August 1807, these fourteen families purchased eight square miles (5,120 acres) of land in Maury County for $15,360, or $2 an acre. The land was a portion of 25,000 acres originally awarded to General Nathanael Green for his service in the Revolutionary War. The men of the families divided the land and erected a log house as near the center as possible for a house of worship.
They chose the name Zion for their new community and their new church. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper was celebrated for the first time at Zion in August 1809 with 54 communicants, and the first regular Sunday School was organized in 1810.
The second church building was completed in the spring of 1813. The third and present building was occupied on April 7, 1849. The education building was completed and dedicated in 1973 and the Brown-Fulton Building, a fellowship hall and classrooms shared with Zion Christian Academy, was opened in October 1991.
There has been a worshipping church on this site, without interruption, through the Civil War and the major wars of this century, from 1807 until present day. Zion was among the first churches to leave the liberal Presbyterian Church to join the newly-formed conservative Presbyterian Church in America in 1973. Franklin Fulton attended the first General Assembly of the PCA in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1973. Zion is also a mother church of several Presbyterian churches. Among them are College Hill Church, College Hill, Mississippi; Zion Church, Milam, Texas; Concord Church, Akron, Alabama; and Spring Hill Presbyterian, Spring Hill, TN.
Zion continues its outward look. Today, roughly 30% of all funds are dedicated to benevolences and missions. May God be praised for the mercy He has shown this church. May God be honored in our faithful stewardship of His word and the property He has entrusted to us.
You can read more about our history by downloading the book Grace Will Lead Us Home.