By Special to the AFRO

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held this weekend at an important historic site in Maryland. The Scotland African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church in Montgomery County was built by hand and opened in 1924 by Black congregants establishing new lives as landowners. The Scotland community dates to the Reconstruction era and this church is the only historic building to survive, registered as a State Historic Site by the Maryland Historical Trust. It is a site of struggle, triumph, and resiliency. In addition to being a sanctuary, the building has served as a hub for the community and a venue for programs including food drives and group meetings.

The original wood-frame structure, one of the last of its kind in the region, was nearly destroyed by a flood in the summer of 2019. Civil engineers concluded that the church is now particularly prone to flooding due to the construction of Seven Locks Road on higher ground, just beyond the church’s front door. As a result of the damage caused by repeated flood incidents, which have left the building in imminent danger of collapse, the community has been without a shared location for fellowship and worship. Preservation of this historic site, and the congregation’s continued use of its long-time home, will require both extensive repair of the damaged building and site work to prevent flooding in the future.

The groundbreaking celebration, hosted by the Rev. Dr. Evalina Huggins, marks the start of a new campaign, the 2nd Century Project, which acknowledges the church’s historic significance, while gathering the financial and social resources to ensure that Scotland and its church play a significant role in Montgomery County in the years and decades ahead. With a campaign committee comprised of descendants of the original Scotland founders, civic leaders from across the region, and other congregation members, this campaign will raise funds needed to flood-proof the landscape, restore the historic church and transform it into a multi-use fellowship hall, and also build an entirely new worship space that nearly doubles the existing seating capacity.

The Scotland community is organizing, trying to spread the word about their efforts and the 2nd Century Project. This project encompasses three key phases, which are Restoration, Rejuvenation, and Regeneration. Restoration involves rebuilding the historic original structure to serve as a community service center for the next 100 years. Regeneration involves re-grading the surrounding landscape to mitigate the risk of future flooding. Rejuvenation involves constructing a new state-of-the-art Scotland AME Zion Church to allow the congregation the opportunity to grow and serve its constituents into the next century. At present, the community is working to raise 1 million dollars for the first phase of this plan, and the groundbreaking is the first step on that path. 

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