Zion Baptist Church
Home to the oldest African American congregation in Colorado, this historic church was constructed in 1893. Zion Baptist dates back to the end of the Civil War, when free people of color and former slaves-many of whom were veterans, formally organized a congregation that had met informally for many years. The congregation purchased this building from Cavalry Baptist Church in 1911. The congregation was led for fifty years (1941-1991) by Reverend Wendell T. Liggins. During his tenure and beyond, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised through grants and donations to maintain the historic structure.
Backstory and Context
As the church grew to over 200 members, the membership determined to begin a second congregation under the leadership of Reverend W.P.T. Jones in 1891. This was the beginning of Denver's Central Baptist Church. Denver's black community continued to grow in the 1890s and early 1900s, allowing Central to secure their own house of worship while Zion grew to 400 members and needed a larger facility. In 1911, members of Zion acquired this building from Cavalry Baptist.
Rev. Wendell Liggins led the congregation through the Civil Rights Movement, in partnership with Reverend Jesse Langston Boyd Jr. of Shorter Community African American Methodist Episcopal Church.