Union Baptist Church will turn 194 on Sunday

Published 11:40 am Friday, October 18, 2013


The 40-member congregation of Union Baptist Church will increase nearly ninefold this Sunday when the oldest African-American church in Ohio celebrates its 194th anniversary.

Located off State Route 93 in Blackfork, Ohio, in the Oak Hill area of Lawrence County near the Gallia County line, the church celebrates it longstanding history and heritage on the third Sunday in October annually. Typically almost 400 come to the service.

Email newsletter signup

The church’s beginning can be traced back to the Underground Railroad when a group of both freed and escaped slaves became its inaugural congregation in 1819. The Underground Railroad was well organized and well funded in southern Ohio because of funding from wealthy iron furnace owners along the Ohio River.

Some members of the congregation are direct descendants of founding members, and some members live as far away as California.

Morning service will begin at 10:45 a.m. with the Rev. Wayne McLaughlin, an evangelist from Chillicothe, preaching. Dinner will be served after the morning service and the afternoon program will start at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Edward Buffington of Providence Buckridge Baptist Church delivering the message. Everyone is invited to attend.