Since August 22, 1971, when one of God’s Chosen men was elected as its Pastor, Little Zion has been blessed to have its history and the life of one Walter Hardy, Jr. intertwined. Upon graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, Rev. Hardy attended the University of New Orleans and the Union Baptist Theological Seminary where he received his BTH Degree on May 11, 1966 and his MTH Degree on May 13, 1970. Rev. Hardy received his Doctorate Degree on May 14, 1997. He was licensed by the late Dr. Arthur Monday, Jr. on April 12, 1964 and on July 27, 1967, he was ordained by the First District Baptist Association at the Pure Light Baptist Church.
Many progressive events have occurred in the history of Little Zion through the leadership of Pastor Hardy. Through his leadership Zion has moved from the house in the middle of the block to the edifice on the corner by the railroad tracks. Zion has moved from an illusion in Pastor Hardy’s dreams to a reality in the lives of many.
Many have seen the rose bud bloom in Zion under the leadership of Pastor Hardy as he reorganized the Youth Choir, renamed the Chancellor Choir, reactivated the Nurture for Baptist Churches, organized the Jr. Choir, Sunbeam Choir, Male Chorus, Choir #2, Midday Usher Board, Jr. Deacon Board, Sisterhood, Brotherhood, Willing Workers, Beautifying Club, Busy Bees, Booster Club, Payne Memorial, Mission, Bible Class, Prayer Band and Nurse’s Guild.
During Pastor Hardy’s tenure as leader of the Zion flock, the little weed has grown into a mighty oak through its mission outreach into the Gert Town community, its work with the Xavier University Health and Community Outreach Program and through the Evangelism Teams and Youth Programs.
Under Rev. Hardy, Zion constructed, marched into and celebrated a Note Burning at 3231 Audubon which in 2005 was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Additional parcels of property have been obtained along Earhart Boulevard, in the 3300 block of Audubon and directly behind the church for parking. The facility at 4821 Earhart was purchased and renovated as the Little Zion Multipurpose building. This building was used for various functions from weddings to repasts and various Zion activities. It is this same building that, since Katrina, now houses the edifice and offices of Little Zion until the Audubon sanctuary is rebuilt.
Throughout Pastor Hardy’s history with Zion, he has also been an active example of Godliness in leadership in the area. He stands out as a good example of what God expects of His anointed. He serves or has served in many prestigious capacities in local, state and national organizations, including holding various Offices in the Ideal Missionary and Educational Association of New Orleans, under the leadership of the late Dr. J.C. Profit, Jr. During his tenure with Ideal, he has served as Secretary, Treasurer, 2nd Vice President and was currently holding the positions of 1st Vice President and interim Treasurer for the year, 2015 .
Pastor Hardy has received numerous awards and commendations from mayors and other civic leaders for his outstanding religious and community service. He participates, along with other pastors in the Gert Town area Task Forces designed for the betterment and security of the Gert Town community.
Pastor Hardy is a man of many talents, all of which are used to glorify and magnify the Lord. He is an excellent teacher, a powerful, soul-stirring Preacher. He can sing, direct and play the piano and organ, yet; he remains true to his calling.
Pastor Hardy has had many accomplishments in his life but yet he remains a humble servant to the Most High God with a simple motto … “If I can help somebody as I pass this way, then my living will not be in vain … and … May the work I’ve done, speak for me.”
But every successful man needs the love and support of a God-filled wife. Following the directions of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Hardy was united in Holy wedlock to the lovable Julia Kelly Hardy. This marriage has been blessed with one son, Walter Hardy, III and daughter-in-law Monique. Mrs. Hardy is a devout Christian woman always willing to lend a helping hand and always there to aid her husband and do whatever she can for the advancement of Zion. She is not only a Deaconess but is also an active member of many auxiliaries and committees.
Pastor Hardy touches many lives through his Divinely Inspired sermons and guidance. He’s a counselor, comforter, provider and friend to all who are in need of a kind word, directions or help. He is truly one of ‘God’s Chosen’ men.
Katrina could not stop Pastor Hardy from his appointed duties. Even with the edifice at 3231 Audubon demolished, even with health issues of his own, he has continued to minister to the sick and shut-in, comfort the bereaved, counsel the depressed and forlorn, give directions to those going into marriage, Blessed the new born and buried the dead. He has never stopped feeding the souls of God’s children with the Holy Word. He has never stopped admonishing all to live Holy, warning that God wants communion, closeness, affection and fellowship amongst His people. Pastor Hardy has created a spirit of love within Zion and has earned the love and respect of this congregation and community by just being, Rev. Walter Hardy, Jr.
Now Zion, as we return to Audubon Street, Pastor Hardy is still right there leading the way. His vision coming to fruition and his love continues to surround us, all we must do is follow, follow, follow.