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Zion Poplars celebrates 150 years

Gloucester County’s oldest black church can literally trace its roots to the trees that still grow on its grounds and gave rise to its name.

Zion Poplars Baptist Church celebrated its 150th anniversary on Sunday. But the church predates even that, as—in the days before the Civil War—slaves and former slaves throughout the county gathered under seven intertwined poplar trees, known as a brush arbor, on what is now T.C. Walker Road to worship.

Aside from providing shade, these poplars provided a safe location to worship and later inspired the name of the church, built by artisan and former slave Frank Braxton, which stands today. Four of these poplars still stand on church grounds.

Clergymen and congregants from Rising Valley Baptist Church of James Store and Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Chesapeake joined Zion Poplars’ Rev. Dr. Elton Pryor and his congregation in worship and celebration of the church’s sesquicentennial anniversary.

Rising Valley Ba...

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