Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, Richmond, VA, was the winner of the 2013 George D. Younger Award for Excellence in Local American Baptist History from the American Baptist Historical Society for its year-long celebration of the birthdate of their founding pastor, Rev. John Jasper (1812-1901).

Mr. Benjamin Ross, the church’s historian, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation during the Historical Society’s breakfast on June 23, part of the American Baptist Churches’ Biennial meeting held in Overland Park, Kansas. Elected church historian in 1984, Mr. Ross’ work on this bicentennial was the culmination of nearly 30 years of service to the congregation. While his focus has been on preservation and collections management, Mr. Ross has also led in educational programs.

This award comes in commendation of the excellent research and outreach incorporated in the 200th birth year celebration of founding pastor, Rev. John Jasper. Public programs and subsequent press coverage blanketed the city of Richmond and reached as far north as Baltimore, Maryland and as far south as Raleigh, North Carolina. The celebration involved programming throughout 2012 and, as the judges noted, made an “overwhelming . . . impact . . . on a broader than Baptist community.” Outreach included programs at the Virginia Historical Society, the Library of Virginia, and the African American Museum in Baltimore.

The Commemorative Quilt created by the congregation’s Victory Senior Adult Ministry received special mention and commendation, both for the way in which it was created and the way in which the quilt was displayed and shared with the general public. One judge commented about the store front display of the quilt, “talk about bringing Jasper to the masses!” The example of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church serves as a model to other congregations planning a ministry of memory in their community and indeed to their state and nation.

Projects eligible for nomination include but are not restricted to church anniversary celebrations, congregational or regional histories, oral history projects, or other historical programs that promote Baptist history in the local community or region. The next Younger Award will be announced during the 2015 Biennial Convention in Overland Park, Kansas. Deadline for submission is May 1, 2015.

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