The organization and historic roots of Orthodox Zion Primitive Baptist Church date back to 1963 when Elder William Arnold organized the church after succeeding from Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church. The new congregation met for several weeks at the former location of Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church located at 909 Third Street in West Palm Beach Fl. The congregation was then relocated to a temporary location on 12th Street in West Palm Beach.
Within two years, the 909 Third Street property was purchased from Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church. Orthodox Zion Primitive Baptist Church was relocated at that time to the 909 Third Street location. To celebrate that event, several well-respected pastors and their congregations joined Pastor W. Arnold and the Orthodox Zion family to celebrate.
Elder William Arnold and his wife, Alberta was the parents of three children – two daughters and one son: Terry, Ammie, and Timothy.
Although in failing health, Elder Arnold continued to plan for the needs of the growing congregation. A house across the street from the church was purchased and rented until it was destroyed by fire. Under Elder Arnold administration, seven men were ordained as Elders, seventeen were ordained as Deacons and twenty-five women were appointed as Mother/Deacons.
But, on January 9, 1987, death claimed the beloved organizer, pastor, teacher, husband, and father, marking the end of an exciting era and the beginning of an even more challenging one for the church.
Upon the death of Elder William Arnold, James H. Chester was elected as pastor of Orthodox Zion on May 6, 1987. Only two years earlier in November 1985, he had accepted his calling into the ministry. He was ordained as church pastor by the East Florida Primitive Baptist Association on November 29, 1987.
The church continued to flourish under the leadership of Pastor James H. Chester. But a thirst and hunger to learn more about God led him to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where he attended Knox Theological Seminary. It became the most important move he would make; it was while at Knox that his life and direction for ministry would change.
During his tenure at Ft. Lauderdale, the church immediately began to reap the benefits of that time of study and reformation. The church began to be transformed from a program driven to a purpose driven church. Pastor Chester established the ministry vision of transforming live to fully functioning followers of Christ. This transformation was accomplished through the intentional balancing of the five purposes of the church: Worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism.
In 1990 the property adjacent to 908 3rd street property has purchased and a parking lot was erected for the church parking. At the same time the church was completely remodeled inside and out and a finance room was added. As the church continued to grow, the Vickers property at 911 3rd street was bought and razed to make way for additional parking.
The church sanctuary at 909 3rd street could no longer hold the people that were coming. On March 26, 1995, the church was relocated to a 4.8-acre facility at 2900 N. Australian Ave in West Palm Beach Florida. On January 30, 1994, the ground breaking ceremony was held. Construction began April 1994 on the 8500 sq.ft. multipurpose worship facility and was completed in January 1995. The first church service was held in February and was dedicated on March 26, 1995. Although many stumbling blocks and pitfall were encountered, the congregation maintained the dedication to accomplish a goal that was merely a dream years ago.
In August 1997, the Orthodox Zion Child Development Center was founded and started with six children. Today it serves eighty-nine children.
In March 2004, a six thousand square foot addition was completed, which houses a dining room, bath rooms and six classrooms. The commercial kitchen was also completed at that time.
The following ministries also were established under the leadership of Elder Chester: Audio, Awana, Benevolent, Children, Couples, Discipleship, Education, Evangelism Explosion, Financial, Hospitality, Kingdom Focus Prayer, Matrons, Music, Nutrition, Overcomers, Pastoral Care, Prison, Seniors, Social Services, Spiritual Gift, Stephen, Tutoring, Usher, Women’s, Youth and Zion Praise Ensemble Choir. Some of these ministries are no longer active.
Since 2006, God has blessed Orthodox with many resources, such as purchase of the Student Center in 2008, enhancement to audio and video systems 2009 (but is currently being upgraded to current digital technology), and the realization of pastor’s dream – the establishment of an “assimilation ministry”. The assimilation ministry is important in closing the “back door” and working to keep members from leaving the church.
Under the leadership of Pastor Chester, the people of God are taught wholeheartedly biblical truths.