Sunday, May 9, 2010

Descendants of freed slaves fight to keep historic black church

Descendants of freed slaves fight to keep historic black church
Originally published February 28, 2010

By Ron Cassie
News-Post Staff

In 1878, near Jefferson , Md., in one of the state's first communities founded by freed slaves, African-American citizens bought the land where they soon built their own "colored" school, church and cemetery.
The first church services were held in the schoolhouse in the mid-1880s. In 1899, members erected the simple, wooded-framed, steepled Sunnyside Methodist Episcopal Church that still stands. The school remained in use until desegregation.

Today, descendants of those freed slaves, the 30 remaining members of the congregation, are fighting the United Methodist Church in court to keep possession of the historic church, the former school, a community hall now and the cemetery where more than 100 of their ancestors are buried.

 In late 2008, in a dispute over the church's future and its increasing apportionment payments, the Sunnyside flock renounced its affiliation with the United Methodist Church. Hoping to reorganize as an independent, Bible-centered community church, congregation board members are now defendants in a court action brought by the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church for failing to vacate the church grounds.

The one-acre property is valued at $150,000, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

  (read complete article)

No comments: