The House that Prayer Built
For 90 years, the Church of God in Christ Little Zion has stood as a landmark house of worship in the Incorporated Village of Freeport, a “Beacon of Hope” and a prominent center of spiritual enrichment for families across Long Island. It has served as a viable force, meeting the spiritual and emotional needs of its population.
The Early Years.
In 1929, a small group of Christians decided that Freeport must have a Holiness church. Amidst the slowly advancing times, slackened all the more by the Great Depression, prayer and supplication led to the establishment of a small mission on Sunrise Highway just across from the Cotton Inn. Among the early founders were: Mother Gordon, Mother Valentine, Elder F. Parker, and Elder Herbert E. Fletcher who would become the church’s first pastor. Mother Valentine was serving as church mother at that time. The succession of pastors as the church’s existence took shape was Elder Fletcher, followed by Elder Walls and Elder Paul Craig.
A New Name in Zion.
After the resignation of Elder Craig in the late 1930s, Elder Lafayette Winbush became the next pastor, serving for 18 years. During his tenure, he made significant contributions.
Elder Winbush gave the church its name, Church of God in Christ Little Zion. The church was incorporated on September 25, 1944. Shortly after the church’s incorporation, 19 Helen Avenue was purchased from the Second Baptist Church. This location would become the church’s home for the next 28 years. After the resignation of Elder Winbush, Superintendent S.L. Osburn shepherded the flock for a short time. The young, enthusiastic Elder Carl Cox, who became the next spiritual leader, followed him.
Bishop O.M. Kelly.
From 1956 to 1972, Bishop Otha Miema Kelly, Jurisdictional Prelate of Eastern New York, served as Zion’s pastor. Although he did not initially come to stay, he remained at the helm of the church for 16 years.
In 1972, the church moved to 312 Grand Avenue. On Opening Day, November 26, 1972, Bishop Kelly passed the mantle and charged his spiritual son to lead God’s people “onward to victory.” Elder Frank White became Zion’s next pastor.
Elder Frank O. White.
Elder White quickly proved himself to be a young man of vision with only great things in store for those who were privileged to serve under his newly appointed pastorate. This was the first time in the church’s history that there was a young pastor, complimented by the support of an endearing wife (Evangelist Juliet White), raising a family, at the helm of the church.
Elder White’s children, at an early age, began to play an active role in the ministry, most notably, the eldest child and only son Frank Anthone. A “musical genius,” he served as organist at the church, started his own musical group, The Voices of Truth and would host musical events regularly. These activities served as a supplemental magnet to attract young people to the Zion Experience, and as such, Sunday and weekly services continued to increase in size. In only 10 years, the mortgage was paid off with renovations soon following to accommodate the growing Little Zion.
Bishop Frank. O. White.
In 1988, Little Zion’s Pastor, Superintendent Frank O. White, was consecrated Prelate of the newly-formed Third Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Eastern New York, Church of God in Christ, Inc. Sunday after Sunday, it was evident that God had set his seal of approval on Little Zion under Bishop White’s pastorate by virtue of the overflowing 11a.m. services. He soon created a new 8 a.m. Sunday Worship Service. Upon his return from the 1991 Holy Convocation in Memphis, Tennessee on the Third Sunday in November, he appointed the Elder Frank Anthone White as Little Zion’s Assistant Pastor.
The Best Help.
The Ministry of the Preached Word, the talent and the business management expertise of Elder White attracted hundreds of souls to Zion. He was soon identified as a young man balanced with the ideal blend of charismatic abilities to keep young people running back for more: Joy Nights, Back Home Hours, Music Symposiums, soul-winning crusades and sold-out “live” recordings were the norm.
Always in tune with God’s system of perfection, seven years after being named Assistant Pastor, Elder White was appointed Co-Pastor of Zion.
Time to Build - Again.
On September 8, 2001, the ceremonial groundbreaking for Zion’s new Cathedral took place. A little over a year later, on September 16, 2002, it was time to say “good-bye” to the edifice Little Zion called home for more than 30 years. On the morning of September 23, 2003, tons of steel and other construction material were delivered to the excavated site at 312 Grand Avenue to begin the construction of the building which would one day be known as “The House That Prayer Built.” Practically 32 years to the day Bishop O. M. Kelly appointed his spiritual son to the pastorate of Little Zion on its Opening Day, Bishop Frank Otha White announced the appointment of Assistant Pastor Frank Anthone White to the full Office of Pastor-The newly constructed and majestically imposing edifice thereafter dedicated by the late Bishop G. E. Patterson as ‘Zion Cathedral.’