Zion Grove Baptist Church exists to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ along with social and rehabilitative support services as a means to improve the quality of life for all people spiritually, emotionally, and economically.
What We Believe back to top
As a local Christian church assembly, the Zion Grove Baptist Church is a full-gospel church that embraces in totality the Holy Bible as the infallible Word of God, and the manual by which all of our operations and endeavors are governed. Thus, we believe…
…Salvation (having communion with God) is made possible only by faith in Jesus Christ.
St. John 3:16-17 Acts 4:10-12 Romans 1:16 Romans 10:8-13
…Repentance (acknowledgement, confession, renunciation of sin, and personally
inviting Christ to enter one’s heart) is necessary for the salvation process to take place.
St. Matthew 3:1-17 Acts 2:38 Romans 2:1-4 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
… One Baptism with three dimensions and ALL three are necessary for Christian
believers to be made whole and complete. Read Ephesians 4:1-6.
1. Baptism into the Spirit of Christ takes place at the point of conversion.
Romans 6:1-14 Galatians 3:26-29
2. Baptism into water (being fully immersed) by the authority of Jesus Christ
in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit only after conversion has taken place.
St. Matthew 3:1-17 Acts 2:38-47 Acts 8:26-39 Acts 10:44-48
3. Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in other
tongues, and the bearing of fruit thereafter.
St. John 14:15-26 Acts 2:1-21 Acts 10:44-48 Acts 19:1-6
…Immediately upon receiving salvation, one must unite with a local Christian assembly
and be discipled (disciplined) into holiness.
…Prayer, Reading the Holy Bible, Fasting, and Tithing are the elements of living a
consecrated life unto God.
…Spiritual Gifts or Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as outlined in I Corinthians, Chapters 12, 13,
and 14 are given to the believer in Christ for the edifying of the church.
…The Five-fold Ministry Gifts (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers)
as outlined in Ephesians, Chapter 4 are given to the body of Christ, and that without
…Man is a physical organism (body) which is conscious of the world in which he lives.
Man has a soul—which houses the mind, the will, and the emotions
Man has a spirit—which is conscious of God and other spirit beings, and it is the spirit
of man that first receives salvation.
…Although first and foremost is spiritual restoration, there are practical matters which
must also be addressed by the church through social and rehabilitative services to
affect maximum change in the quality of life for an individual.
…Heaven (the reward of the Christian) and Hell (the reward of the sinner) is the eternal
destiny of the body, soul, and spirit.
History back to top
The Zion Grove Baptist Church was organized on January 22, 1959 with the original location being 3636 South Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Our beloved founder, the Reverend Charlie Hall Stimage, was one of four children born to Altha Stimage and Charlie Hall in Clarksdale, Mississippi. After serving his country in World War II, he resided in Pontiac, Michigan and worked for Ford Motor Company. He organized a gospel quartet, the Southern Jubilees and sang with other groups as well. In 1952, Charlie moved to Chicago and became a member of New Morning Star Baptist Church under the pastorate of the late Reverend David Bishop.
Charlie Hall Stimage accepted the call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1956. It was in this same year he met and married Maxine Carlotta Constance Bennett. The marriage of Charlie and Maxine was one that lasted forty years. With the love and faithful support of his wife, Charlie organized the Zion Grove Baptist Church. In this endeavor he was greatly assisted by the late Reverend L.W. Childress of Columbus, Ohio. He was also assisted by the Reverend L. Holmes and the Reverend C.S. Hampton in the organizing of the church. The church was given the name “Zion” signifying a holy place. For, the word Zion is sometimes used to refer to the “heavenly city”. The first service was held on January 24, 1959 with an attendance of nine persons including Reverend and Mrs. Stimage, Carl and Gracie Bennett, Larry and Myra McGee, Joe and Mary Hampton, and Ms. Jennie Stevens. The offering raised in this first service was in the amount of $20.00.
The Zion Grove Baptist Church is a licensed and chartered Not-for-Profit religious establishment in the state of Illinois, with the following members on the Charter: Charlie and Maxine Stimage, Carl and Gracie Bennett, Larry and Myra McGee, Isaiah and Isabella Stokes, and Joe and Mary Hampton. We are blessed to have one of these charter members yet alive in the person of, Gracie Bennett. We are also blessed to have “pioneer” members who, though not on the church’s charter, these members have been with Zion Grove since its inception: Eddie Mae Lake and Audrey Henderson. There are also pillars of the church who continue to serve through their “seasoned—over age 60” years, and for each of them we are grateful.
In later years, and rightfully so, Reverend Stimage was affectionately called “Bishop”. Bishop Stimage demonstrated an unusual knowledge of and concern for the membership of Zion Grove Baptist Church. He counseled all who inquired, married not a few, eulogized many, exercised great patience, and loved us all. Bishop was truly a pastor who never lost contact with his parishioners. Our beloved founder was truly “cut” from a unique mold. Many were left to stand in awe and marvel at the love and concern Bishop displayed for the members of Zion Grove. We cannot count the times our Bishop traveled the country with his members in their times of grief through death of loved ones. Yes, we are proud to say that our Bishop owned a few Cadillacs during his lifetime. However, we are honored to the highest when we vividly remember how our Founder and Bishop used these Cadillacs to personally transport many of us across the interstate highways to assist us in burying our loved ones. He set an example of what it truly means to be a “minister”—which many have forgotten means servant. For 37 years we enjoyed—although we did not always understand and appreciate what we had—a pastor who was accessible. We could call him on the phone without any doubts of being able to speak with him. We could sit at the table with him at the church and disrupt his meal, and he did not seem to mind. We could tap on his office door (only out of courtesy because we knew we could enter) and engage his valuable time in emergency and non-emergency situations. If someone needed a hug, we could always hug Bishop. In fact, when Sunday morning service dismissed, Bishop Stimage did not have an entourage quickly brisk him away into privacy. Instead, he would come out of the pulpit and stand on the floor in order to hug as many of the members, visitors, and friends as he could reach. Many of us remember Bishop Stimage yelling across the church after service at various members, reminding them that they had not hugged him or given him any “sugar”. It can be said that he nicknamed all of us “Baby”, “Sugar”, or some term of endearment. It is truly amazing that a great many of us thought that this is the way all pastors behaved and interacted with the members. Many of us have since realized that—there was only one, and can never be another—Charlie Hall Stimage. Bishop’s patience and temperament are beyond words. It is safe to say that Bishop tolerated many things that only God gave him grace to handle. Because of our founder, who never carried himself in a haughty, high-minded, or socially elite way, Zion Grove has never been, and can never allow itself to become a church out of touch with the common person. Yet, we know who we are in Christ!
Through the leadership and commitment of Bishop Stimage, Zion Grove has occupied three locations. As mentioned at the beginning, the church’s first location was at 3636 South Cottage Grove Avenue. Because of redevelopment a move was made to 725 East Pershing Road, and continual redevelopment caused the church to make one more move to its current location. Although we gradually acquired the entire building we now possess, we have been planted on the premises since 1965. Our current legal address is 231-33 East Pershing Road (39th Street and Prairie Avenue) in Chicago, Illinois. In this present location, we started with one of several stores that we converted to our place of worship. We have continued to expand thus occupying the entire building structure, which originally was constructed to hold eight bays—separate compartments for storefront businesses. Bishop Stimage achieved many accomplishments for the improvement of the church: purchasing the Hammond Organ, a Baby Grand Piano, a baptistry, pews, remodeling the original kitchen and fellowship hall, and putting a brick elevation on the entire exterior to name only a meager few. More importantly however, are the spiritual strides we made as a result of Bishop’s being obedient to God, even at the risk of being scorned by his peers and colleagues in the ministry.
Since the birth of this ministry, a joyful and jubilant spirit has characterized the worship service. We are a church that strongly believes in praising and worshipping God. Our founder and beloved Bishop insisted that we praise and magnify God, and this Spirit of exuberant praise and worship remains. Oh, we must never forget how God took us from level to level, and from victory to victory through spiritual changes God directed our bishop to institute. He taught us how to rejoice in the Lord in a manner of decency and orderliness. By this we mean Zion Grove followed the usual order in the “Baptist” church of grabbing people and physically wrestling them if they became emotional and expressed themselves. Someone who rejoiced in the Lord could expect a group of people to run to their “rescue” and hold them until they “regained” their senses. In addition, should someone faint or pass out as a result of being overwhelmed in the “spirit”, they could expect to be revived with “smelling sauce”. It was our Bishop who stopped the ushers, deacons, and members at large from chasing, wrestling, grabbing, and holding people. He ended the use of smelling sauce. He taught that everyone should praise the Lord, and that our human interference was wrong. Because Bishop obeyed the Lord, we know how to shout and rejoice and let the Holy Spirit rain upon us. The Holy Ghost sweeps through this church like a whirlwind and nothing can withstand it! Once believed to be voodoo and feared, our Bishop taught us to receive the anointing of Oil and the laying on of hands. He encouraged us to deny ourselves with fasting, and to lift our hands in the sanctuary and bless the Lord. In his last message to the church in November of 1996, a few months before he passed away, Bishop Stimage taught us that we can conquer whatever problems that come our way if we “stay together”. Let the record show that our beloved founder and Bishop paved the way for much of what we now experience and enjoy in our services. By God’s amazing grace and unlimited mercy, Zion Grove continues to carry the “torch” on Pershing Road (39th Street). We continue to go higher in the things of God, and to make Jesus Christ our focus. Many souls have come through the doors of this church, and we have faced many attacks and obstacles along the way. However, God has established this church and ordained it to be a beacon light.
On January 9, 1997, the Reverend Charlie Hall Stimage—affectionately called “Bishop”, finished the work assigned to his hands and was called from labor to reward. Knowing the time was near for his transition, Bishop Stimage appointed the associate ministers of the church to stand in his stead, and to assume greater leadership responsibility. Bishop had made preparation and he was at peace with God not only concerning himself, but also concerning the well-being of Zion Grove Baptist Church. It is very important for the members especially, and the friends of Zion Grove as well, to know and understand that God allowed Bishop to go out of this world with a “Bang”! Some formed quick and hasty decisions about our Bishop’s last days. Many engaged in carnal conversations and even more carnal speculations about Bishop’s mental stability. However, those of us who sat by Bishop’s bedside, and who talked with him until he left this world, can attest to the fact that our Bishop had full mental capacity. His body may have grown weak, and the test of time may have prevailed against his physical house, but God kept our Bishop in his “right” mind, and with full mental capacity to delegate, orchestrate, command, and instruct those he left in charge as to what should be done in the interest of the church. Bishop knew God, and most importantly he heard from and obeyed God. He amazed us all when we had just climaxed the church’s 37th Anniversary, and on that same night, Bishop announced—“Now, we going into revival!” In fact, he said--“The Lord said we going into revival!” Everyone thought, we just finished anniversary week. Bishop made it clear that he was aware we had just finished anniversary week, but “the Lord said we going into revival!” The very next week we started revival services, and God met us in a mighty way each night. There was no doubt that God indeed spoke to our Bishop and led him to order revival services. As it turned out, that revival outpour of God’s word and His Spirit remained with us for nearly two years. It is truly amazing what God can do, and how God chooses to work in and through his people. God did not suffer our Bishop to leave this world in shame and obscurity, but with love, honor, and God’s stamp of approval that all is well. On Sunday, July 13, 1997, the Reverend Willie C. Morrow, aka, W. Charles Morrow was placed by God into the office of pastor of the Zion Grove Baptist Church. The Official Installation Service of Pastor Morrow took place on Saturday, August 23, 1997 and was officiated by Bishop Joseph E. Brown of St. John Temple Church.
While we pause to remember Bishop Stimage, it is only befitting to acknowledge that the current pastor of Zion Grove Baptist Church, W. Charles Morrow, is cut from a mold unlike anyone the world has ever, and will ever know. There is only one W. Charles Morrow!
“Little Willie”, as he was called while growing up in this church, came to Zion Grove at age 11, and God saw fit to raise him up and place him over the church for such a time as this. Pastor Morrow insists that we grow up and learn how to reach God for ourselves, and not put restraints and limits on God’s ministry gifts. Pastor Morrow’s message to the church is summed up as follows—Get a personal relationship with God, learn how to hear and obey His voice, and stop being carried about with every wind of doctrine. The focus at the Grove is “stand on God’s
word for yourself and stop killing everyone else because of laziness and a lack of desire to seek God’s face and submit to His word”. Since Pastor Morrow has led Zion Grove Baptist Church, God has taken the church through several levels of elevation in the realm of the Holy Spirit. There is a heavy anointing that rests upon and abides within Zion Grove Baptist Church. Members and visitors alike are being helped, blessed, and delivered from the will of satan through the power of God’s anointing. The message is practical and relevant as well as biblically based. Jesus is the center of attraction, and to God be the Glory and Honor for the things He alone has done!
Through the wisdom that only God gives, Pastor Morrow assumed the task of renovating the church from a dismal place of shame and ridicule, to a structure of beauty and honor. One year after becoming the shepherd of this house, Pastor Morrow began procedures necessary to undergo a total gut rehabilitation of the building. For those who knew us in the old structure, the partial result of God’s vision is what you see and enjoy today. “Partial?” You ask. Yes, we have only just begun! There is so much more to come and our best days are ahead. For we are a Full-Gospel, Pentecostal Church on the move, doing great things for God!
The church has expanded to radio broadcasting and several very important outreach services to the residents of the community. For four years from March 1998 until March 2001, "God's Grace and Mercy" aired on Radio Station WYCA 92.3 FM and then transitioned with the radio station to 106.3 FM. This broadcast was heard each Wednesday night from 9:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. and featured the teaching ministry of Pastor Morrow. On March 7, 2004 until September 12, of the same year our 11:00 a.m. Praise & Worship Service was broadcast live each Sunday over Radio Station WYLL 1160 AM. In July 2005, we began airing our Sunday afternoon service over Radio Station WBGX 1570 AM from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Much focus is now being placed on reaching out to the residents of our community. Under the leadership of Pastor Morrow, the church is aggressively expanding its efforts to meet the needs of low income and disadvantaged persons--a large base of residents who yet reside in the fast-developing and economically changing Bronzeville Community.
The church has purchased and fully paid for the parcel of land immediately adjacent to the west wall of the current facility. This transaction was finalized in November 2004. It is the vision of Pastor Morrow to erect a Community Service Center and Gymnasium that will provide a wide range of services including educational training, college preparation and application, job readiness skills, and daily practical assistance to empower residents to rise above poverty. A more complete description of the goals of the church and its community service center is detailed in an agency plan and architectural designs.