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It’s Sunday morning, and as soon as people exit the 8 a.m. service of Zion Church in Greenbelt, Maryland, another group is filling a renovated Kmart building for the 9:45 a.m. worship service. In an hour, people will gather for the 11:30 service.
“Fifteen minutes into our service, I am up,” said the Rev. Keith Battle, founder and pastor of Zion Church, a congregation of more than 22,000 registered attendees weekly online called “Zion Anywhere,” and four locations across the greater Washington area, including three in Maryland — Greenbelt, Landover and Fort Washington — and one in Woodbridge, Virginia.
Zion Church also airs a weekly radio broadcast called “Weekly Wisdom” every Sunday morning on WPGC 95.5 FM and Majic 102.3 FM in Washington and 92.3 FM, and 106.1 FM in Baltimore.
Founded in 2000, Zion Church has more than 100 full-time and part-time employees that serve across the organization, in the community and across its campuses. Helping keep it all together is Joshua Davies, global experience director, who has been a musician and director at Zion for many years.
Battle always knew he wanted to affect the masses, but didn’t know exactly how he would make that happen. As a student in Fairmont Heights High School, Battle struggled between going into ministry or being a clean comedian like Sinbad.
With a chuckle, he said, “I guess God had other plans.”
Jason Jones, 44, a resident of the District of Columbia, started attending Zion shortly after the church began.
“Pastor Battle was my youth minister at New Psalm Bible Fellowship. He was very down-to-earth and very kind. When he started a new congregation, I came,” said Jones, who eventually became a pastor at Zion before leaving to serve another church.
Jones explained it was Zion’s welcoming environment and great worship experience that attracted him so many years ago, and still sets an example for churches all over.
“Being organized is part of being welcoming,” said Jones, co-pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in northeast D.C. “Pastor Battle is still my pastor. I would also say that online ministry is also important to make people feel part of the service and to meet them where they are.”
Who Is Keith Battle?
Battle, a Prince George’s County native who went on to attend Washington Bible College, even with his casual and laid-back style has become a nationally known leader.
First, he’s a family man, calling his wife Vicki his best friend.
“I am extroverted. I enjoy being around people, laughing and having fun, and I am wired to be around people … but my wife is introverted,” he said.
The couple has three children, Asha, Asa and Kendall, and one grandchild, Carsen.
In addition to pastoring Zion, Battle served as chaplain for the Washington Wizards, president of Sagacity, LLC, a company through which he provides executive coaching for business owners, entrepreneurs and other church leaders, and is a writer, having authored “Side Chickology: Why Men & Women Cheat” and “A Second Chance: Grace for the Broken.”
While he’s a busy man, Battle still finds time to lift weights in a local gym, play pinochle with men in the Largo, Wegmans and even join First Baptist Church of Glenarden for the annual Christmas production.
Zion Church’s mission is: “to help people Experience God, Engage in Connections, Be Equipped through training, and be Empowered to Serve,” but Battle said the challenge is to make that experience accurate for everyone.
“Ninety-Six percent of the people who come to the church come because of a personal invitation, not because of flyers. My responsibility is to keep the message practical and to keep it quick. We want to create an environment where no one feels like a changer.”
When talking about the success of his ministry over the past two decades, he said, “I would equate it to eating at a great restaurant. The food is good, you want good and friendly service,” Battle said. “The conversation changes if the food comes out late. But if everything is good, you want to come back, you want to tell others.” Zion Church’s four campuses each have a lead and co-pastor team. The church’s online component was birthed in 2010 and now serves the most significant number of attendees out of all Zion campuses. Battle said the online presence, which is more than 15,000, has been critical to the church’s growth during and after the global pandemic.
Angela Anderson and her two daughters attended the Landover campus of Zion, but since the pandemic they have worshiped online.
“I enjoy the praise music and sermons,” Anderson said. “I love how Pastor Battle brings the word of God into everyday life, and he has a passion for reaching souls.”
Anderson added that while she never intended to attend a large congregation, she was attracted to Zion because of Battle’s messages.
“We tell church people, ‘We don’t want you to rush God, but we also don’t want you to be there all day,’” Battle said. “But I guarantee if you come to Zion, you will have a practical message that will apply to your life.”
Zion in the Community
Since 2000, Zion has served more than 50,000 families with food. The church’s food pantry serves nearly 350 families monthly with healthy food and fresh produce.
In addition, more than 6,200 people have received life-saving information and education through the community town halls, health assessments and vaccinations at all Zion campuses.
Zion’s Prison Ministry began in 2012 in the DC Jail and currently provides music ministry, sermon messages, and small group opportunities to incarcerated individuals.
Zion Church partnered with Bowie State University in 2021, providing fresh fruit, healthy snacks, hygiene products and toiletry kits every week to student-athletes and anyone else needing the supplies.
In October 2022, Zion Church launched its Z-Fest Community Wellness Day, a free, family-centered health and wellness festival at different Zion campus locations. Z-Fest is a grant-based partnership between Zion Church and local health-based organizations that offer on-site health screenings, testing and vaccinations, and prize giveaways.
Zion Church also hosts mission trips and provides financial support to churches in Haiti, Kenya, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua.
To learn more about Zion Church, go to www.zionchurch.org.
Hi can I provide two edits? This article is fantastic.
(New Psalm…) ..New Song..in Greenbelt/Lanham I think.
no one feels like a stranger (changer).
I love Zion church, its Pastor and all that it is and does to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
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