Historic Macedonia church gets $100K

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 23, 2023

BURLINGTON — A historic Black church in Lawrence County has received $100,000 grant funding toward its preservation.

Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, located in Burlington, is listed in the first round of grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

The Preserving Black Churches grants were awarded to 35 historic Black churches, for a total investment of $4 million.

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Built in 1849 with the help of recently freed enslaved people, the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church was the first Black Church not just in Ohio, but west of the Alleghenies/Appalachians.

The grant will go toward efforts to help to save the vacant National Historic Landmark from collapse, stabilize and restore the only extant antebellum Black church in the state, and support its rebirth as a historic site and community center.

The Action Fund’s Preserving Black Churches program is a $20 million initiative funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. to help historic Black churches and congregations reimagine, redesign, and deploy historic preservation to protect the cultural assets and legacies they steward, tell their stories of resiliency and hope, and carry their missions into the future.

With more than $80 million in funding, the Action Fund is the largest U.S. resource dedicated to the preservation of African American historic places.

“Leaving an indelible imprint on our society, historic Black churches hold an enduring legacy of community, spirituality, and freedom that continues to span generations,” said Brent Leggs, executive director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and senior vice president, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The Action Fund created the Preserving Black Churches program to recognize and celebrate the Black church for its contributions on American life, culture, and history, while also investing in their physical permanence and financial sustainment into the future. We are honored to award our first round of grantees with the resources needed to ensure the Black church continues to stand in its fullest glory.”

Last year, the church received a Jeffris Heartland Fund $12,450 matching grant to help fund a historic structure report to assess what is needed to restore the church.

In June, Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a capital improvement bill that included $100,000 for the church.