A Summary of Historical Zion United Methodist Church
The roots of Zion United Methodist Church run deep enough in local, state and national history to place it on the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, National Register of Historic Places and the National Park Service Civil War Tour.
The sanctuary sits at the southern edge of the Spotsylvania Courthouse Historic District and on an original road used by America’s first Methodist Bishop, Francis Asbury, during his famed colonial America circuit rides. Building construction was completed in 1859, when the doors opened as Liberty Methodist Episcopal Church South.
When the winds of war blew across America in 1860, the church’s name was changed to Zion Methodist Episcopal Church South. The first recorded instance of armed soldiers entering Zion occurred in 1862 when a Union Regiment used the sanctuary as a lay-over position. During the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, it was initially pressed into service as General A.P. Hill’s headquarters, then as a field hospital. General Robert E. Lee frequently met with his staff at the church and a counter attack on the Union army was initiated from the church grounds. Severn of Zions former pastors served in the Confederate army, two as chaplains. Five Confederate and one Union veterans rest in the cemetery.
Although the original design and footprint of the sanctuary has remained virtually unchanged since original construction, some modification have been made with the passing of time. In 1899, extensive repairs were made to the sanctuary exterior walls, roof and windows, all of which were damaged by Union artillery. Inside the sanctuary the first of two coats of plaster were applied to the walls, a new tin ceiling and new oil chandeliers were added. The chancel in the pulpit area was also expanded to its present state.
In 1949, electrical lighting replaced the oil lights and ten years later in 1959, the small framed building used for the office was added after it was donated to Zion by Alice Coleman, the Spotsylvania postmistress. In 1960 the original floors were removed from the sanctuary and new oak flooring was installed. During the floor replacement, one of the workers discovered a civil war sword under the church and is currently on display at the local museum. The floors in the gallery are original, as are most of the pews. In 1971, ground was broken for the adjacent education center.
Many residents have found the exterior of Zion beautiful. However, one must walk inside, preferably on a Sunday morning, to feel the love, joy, fellowship and Gods word that await you.