$6,000 grant awarded to the John Wesley Preservation Society


A grant of $6,000 was recently awarded to the John Wesley Preservation Society, by the Maryland Historical Trust, to support the construction of an informational sign.

The John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church has been a presence on the corner of Evergreen and Oxford road since 1838 and has played a significant role in the lives of the members of the black community of Oxford. It has been referred to as “the little white church on Oxford Road”, but it is so much more than that! It is an enduring landmark of community, faith and perseverance. It is also a church where, in 1851, whites and blacks worshipped together at a time when that was a rare occurrence.

The last time the church was used for services was in the 1970s, and subsequently, the church fell into disrepair. Efforts to save the church and from further deterioration began in 2003 with the realization that a significant part of the Talbot County’s African American History was about to be lost. In the words of Wayman Pinder, one of the original board members, “It was important to us individually and collectively to preserve the John Wesley buildings, where we shared so many memories and where spiritual knowledge was gained. Additionally, we recognized the church’s importance to the community as a historical landmark. We realized that restoration of the buildings would be a way to share the rich history and hoped that it would be used for a variety of services. Most importantly, the restoration of John Wesley Church was to do honor and show respect to our ancestors who faithfully maintained the buildings and the grounds.”

Since the initial project began, in 2003, much has been accomplished. Under the leadership of Kathy a Radcliffe, both buildings have been rehabilitated. The interior of the church is a place where family members are memorialized on engraved stained glass windows and on the pews with plaques. Previously unmarked graves have now been marked in the adjacent cemetery.

In 2015, the church property was designated the first African American Museum in Talbot County. Funds have been raised through grants and private donors to be used to construct a public and disability accessible restroom and parking area. There will also be landscaping along the border of the cemetery to distinguish it from an adjacent parking area, the land of which has been generously donated. Once construction is completed, history will be brought to life as the museum shares interviews with former congregation members on that website. The church will also be sponsoring lectures and concerts, celebrating life events, hosting family reunions, hosting community events, pursuing research, and educating both adults and children about the importance of this Church and its history.

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