A Guide to the The Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church Papers 1876-1974 Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church, Papers, 1876-1974 1980-36

A Guide to the Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church Papers, 1876-1974

A Collection in
Special Collections and Archives
Collection Number 1980-36


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Johnston Memorial Library, Virginia State University

Special Collections and Archives
Johnston Memorial Library
P.O. Box 9406
Virginia State University
Petersburg, Virginia 23806
USA
Phone: (804) 524-5749
Fax: (804) 524-6959
Email: ledwards@vsu.edu
URL: http://www.vsu.edu/library/index.htm

© 2002 By the Board of Visitors of Virginia State University.

Funding: Funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Alicia McCloud and Lucious Edwards Special Collections and Archives Staff

Repository
Special Collections and Archives, Johnston Memorial Library, Virginia State University
Collection number
1980-36
Title
Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church Papers, 1876-1974
Physical Characteristics
This collection contains ca. 200 pieces.
Language
English
Abstract
The Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church papers contain minutes, reports and the church's history projects during almost a hundred year span from the church's organization. Included in these papers is an unfinished history of the church's existence, minutes from a conference dating back to 1876, and minutes from the Sabbath schools that were formed.

Administrative Information

Access

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church Papers, 1876-1974, Accession # 1980-36, Special Collections and Archives, Johnston Memorial Library, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA.

Acquisition Information

James Oliver Allen gave these papers to the Virginia State University Archives/Special Collections Department in hopes of a publication of a book on this denomination. They are to be preserved, administered, and used by the Virginia State University Archives/Special Collections under customary practices and guidelines of general archival administration. Copyrights were transferred to Virginia State University by Deed of Gift in February 1980. Accession Number: 1980-36.


History of the Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church

James Richard Howell established the Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church in 1869, although the beginnings of its foundation can be traced back to 1865. James Howell was a native of New York City where he was an elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Elder Howell, who was an abolitionist, envisioned a church to evangelize the Southern "Negro."

Elder Howell left his home in New York City and boarded a train heading south. Several hours later he had arrived in the town of LaCrosse in Mechlenburg, Virginia. This is where he began to form the Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church. Howell began to talk with individuals concerning the church he envisioned. These individuals appeared to have been interested in his idea. On on April 1, 1869, a delegation including ministers from various denominations, assembled in Boydton, Virginia to consider Howell's plan of union.

The plan of union was accepted by the delegation with exception of some matters relating to the episcopate government. Elder Howell won suggestion of his new denomination, the Zion Union Apostolic Church. The name came from many of the scriptures that Howell read. Zion was the stronghold of ancient days, therefore, Zion would be the stronghold of God's people in this age. As Christ taught oneness of himself and the heavenly father and his oneness with his followers, so, too, shall his church dwell as a union.

During October 1869, a second meeting was held at the Zion Society to complete the work of a Zion Union Society. At this meeting guidelines for the general rules were adopted and Elder Howell was elected to a four-year term as President of the "Zion Union Apostolic Church of America."

The denomination was divided into three major factions, the liberals, who had withdrawn from the Episcopalian communion, the conservatives, who had been in the white Methodist church, and the fundamentalists who had come from the Baptist churches or were new converts to Christianity. The three factions made almost unceasing war on each other. The liberals were perhaps a decade ahead of their time in plans and ideas. The fundamentalists were determined to fight for local church sovereignty and the immunity of the pastors from any authority except local congregations. The conservatives hued strictly to the Methodist line, in doctrines and in practices. Bishop Howell was almost a faction within himself. He used his powers of appointment, silencing and expulsion of ministers as a sledgehammer to drive the stakes of Zion according to his own designs.

Controversy became rampant and even bitter. The struggle the between the bishops and the elders became more divisive to the church when a movement grew to merge the Zion Union Church with the Episcopal Church. Bishop Howell fought with an abrasive tenacity and the division was so sharpened that some Elders and churches withdrew from Zion.

Bishop James Howell released himself from his duties of bishop from 1880-1881. Bishop William Howell was a man considered agreeable to conservatives, liberals and the fundamentalist. Bishop Howell immediately approved ineffective with the opening of the conference of 1880. His first order of business was the merger of the Episcopalian government. After four days of meetings on the matter, a motion prevailed that the Common Book of Prayer would be adopted. The conference ended with the Zion Union Apostolic Church being organized into thirty-eight Episcopalian churches and missions. and purposes.

The merger, however, was as a yet one-sided affair. James R. Howell came out of the Conference more determined than ever to save his beloved Zion. When the Annual Conference of 1881 was called to order, Howell had done little on the merger except the rather astringent efforts of opposition. Once returned to office of Bishop, James R. Howell used his powers to batter his opponents. The shock of his fury tore the church asunder. The Conservatives found it necessary to go to the Bishop and once again point out the grave situation. Howell acceded. He set to work to hear the breach in Zion. He successfully arranged a Conference in 1882 to put Zion Union on one accord. The Conservative leadership took over once the Conference was called to order and set in motion plans, which would free Zion Union of discord. The Conference ended with differences worked out, a return to presidential government and complete rejection of the merger. From this conference, the church was known as the Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church. However in the Conference of 1884, the Episcopacy government was restored with the ruling that is shall never be eliminated.

Scope and Content Information

The Reformed Zion Union Church papers (1876-1974) are vital papers about the formation of a denomination after the Civil War. These papers give a detailed account about the beginnings of this denomination and its founder James Richard Howell.

Howell, a former member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, envisioned a church where all could go to worship regardless of race, creed, or color. Howell determined to see his vision come true, set out to find a place for this church. He boarded a train and found himself in LaCrosse, Virginia and this is where the Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church denomination began.

These papers document the origins, purposes and functions of a uniquely African American Christian church. They represent a church that was not in existence until 1869. These papers have a distinct worth because it gives you an understanding of how a church was established after the Civil War.

These papers include minutes from Annual Conferences, Sunday School Conventions, Home Missions and Educational Convention, Women's Home Mission and Educational Society, the Reformed Zion Union Sabbath Schools, and Rising Zion Young Peoples Society.

The papers are useful not only to members of this denomination but anybody who is interested in how black churches were formed after the Civil War. These materials also help to inform us of the structure of the African American community after the Civil War. These materials document some of the activities in Virginia's black belt. Also, these papers may also be useful for genealogical work because quite a few names are used.

Series Description

In series one of the Reformed Zion Union Apostolic papers, there are detailed records of the church's history. In these records an unfinished publication of the church's history and a brief history of the denominations formation and James Richard Howell. Included are many projects that the church was working on along with financial reports from these projects. Some minutes from annual conferences are added in this series.

The second series contains minutes from annual conferences, Sunday school conventions, Women's home Mission and Educational Society, Home Mission and Educational Convention, the Reformed Zion Union Sabbath Schools and Rising Zion Young People's Society. These minutes are from the first and second district. These records date from 1876-1970.

Contents List

Series I: Church History Project
  • Box-folder 1:1
    Manual Script Early Church History n.d.
  • Box-folder 1:2
    Church History n.d.
  • Box-folder 1:3
    Brief History 1969
  • Box-folder 1:4
    History n.d.
  • Box-folder 1:5
    Church Report September 19, 1963
  • Box-folder 1:6
    Financial Report 1974
  • Box-folder 1:7
    Committee Report 1974
  • Box-folder 1:8
    Individual Church Report n. d.
  • Box-folder 1:9
    Report on school at LaCrosse 1915
  • Box-folder 1:10
    Trustee Report 1956
  • Box-folder 1:11
    Conference Rules and Regulations n. d.
  • Box-folder 1:12
    Historical Notes n. d.
  • Box-folder 1:13
    Notes 1959
  • Box-folder 1:14
    Programs about Bishops 1959
  • Box-folder 1:15
    Programs 1926, 1951, 1976
  • Box-folder 1:16
    Broadside 1925, 1964
  • Box-folder 1:17
    Minutes 2nd district 1954
  • Box-folder 1:18
    Minutes Sunday School Convention 1962
  • Box-folder 1:19
    Annual Conference 1925
  • Box-folder 1:20
    Annual Conference Minutes 1974
Series II: Minutes and Reports
  • Box-folder 1:21
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 1st district 1899
  • Box-folder 1:22
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 1st district 1915
  • Box-folder 1:23
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 1st district 1917
  • Box-folder 1:24
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 1st district 1927, 1943
  • Box-folder 1:25
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1943
  • Box-folder 1:26
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1947
  • Box-folder 1:27
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1948
  • Box-folder 1:28
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1949
  • Box-folder 1:29
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1950
  • Box-folder 1:30
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1952
  • Box-folder 1:31
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1952
  • Box-folder 1:32
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1953
  • Box-folder 1:33
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1956
  • Box-folder 1:34
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1957
  • Box-folder 1:35
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1965
  • Box-folder 1:36
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1966
  • Box-folder 1:37
    Minutes of the Sunday School Convention 2nd district 1970
  • Box-folder 2:38
    22nd Annual Conference 1904
  • Box-folder 2:39
    29th Annual Conference 1909
  • Box-folder 2:40
    36th Annual Conference 1916
  • Box-folder 2:41
    40th Annual Conference 1920
  • Box-folder 2:42
    General Session 1902
  • Box-folder 2:43
    15th Annual Session 1897
  • Box-folder 2:44
    16th Annual Session 1898
  • Box-folder 2:45
    18th Annual Session 1901
  • Box-folder 2:46
    31st Annual Session 1911
  • Box-folder 2:47
    32nd Annual Session 1912
  • Box-folder 2:48
    33rd Annual Session 1913
  • Box-folder 2:49
    2nd District 24th Annual Conference 1945
  • Box-folder 2:50
    2nd District 25th Annual Conference 1946
  • Box-folder 2:51
    2nd District 26th Annual Conference 1947
  • Box-folder 2:52
    2nd District 27th Annual Conference 1948
  • Box-folder 2:53
    2nd District 28th Annual Conference 1949
  • Box-folder 2:54
    2nd District 29th Annual Conference 1950
  • Box-folder 2:55
    2nd District 30th Annual Conference 1951
  • Box-folder 2:56
    2nd District 31st Annual Conference 1952
  • Box-folder 2:57
    2nd District 33rd Annual Conference 1954
  • Box-folder 2:58
    2nd District 41st Annual Conference 1962
  • Box-folder 2:59
    2nd District 44th Annual Conference 1965
  • Box-folder 2:60
    2nd District 45th Annual Conference 1965
  • Box-folder 2:61
    2nd District 47th Annual Conference 1968
  • Box-folder 2:62
    2nd District 49th Annual Conference 1969
  • Box-folder 3:63
    Minutes of Women's Home Mission and Educational Convention 2nd District 1943, 1947
  • Box-folder 3:64
    Minutes of the Women's Home Mission and Education Society 2nd District 1951, 1970
  • Box-folder 3:65
    Minutes of the Reformed Zion Union Sabbath Schools 1906, 1909
  • Box-folder 3:66
    Minutes of the Home Mission and Educational Convention 1919, 1949, 1952
  • Box-folder 3:67
    Minutes of the Home Mission and Education Convention 1954, 1956
  • Box-folder 3:68
    Minutes of the Rising Zion Young People's Society 1946, 1948
  • Box-folder 3:69
    Minutes of 5th and 9th Annual Meetings 1876, 1880
  • Box-folder 3:70
    Minutes of 10th and 11th Annual Meetings 1883-1884
  • Box-folder 3:71
    Minutes of 13th and 14th Annual Meetings 1886-1887
  • Box-folder 3:72
    Minutes of Annual Meetings 1905, 1921
  • Box-folder 3:73
    Minutes of Annual Meeting 1961
  • Box-folder 3:74
    Minutes of General Conferences 1938, 1946
  • Box-folder 3:75
    1st District 21st Annual Conference 1903
  • Box-folder 3:76
    1st District 26th Annual Conference 1907
  • Box-folder 3:77
    1st District 27th Annual Conference 1908
  • Box-folder 3:78
    1st District 34th Annual Conference 1915
  • Box-folder 3:79
    1st District 38th Annual Conference 1918
  • Box-folder 3:80
    1st District 66th Annual Conference 1946
  • Box-folder 3:81
    1st District 67th Annual Conference 1947
  • Box-folder 3:82
    1st District 68th Annual Conference 1949
  • Box-folder 3:83
    1st District 69th Annual Conference 1949
  • Box-folder 3:84
    1st District 70th Annual Conference 1950
  • Box-folder 3:85
    1st District 71st Annual Conference 1951
  • Box-folder 3:86
    1st District 73rd Annual Conference 1953
  • Box-folder 3:87
    1st District 75th Annual Conference 1955
  • Box-folder 3:88
    1st District 79th Annual Conference 1959