At a time when the advancing clock of civil rights seems to be stopped, the Rev. Jonathan Weaver, pastor of the Greater Mount Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bowie, Md. looks to the church’s 140 year old legacy for inspiration.

On June 8, 1877 a group of freed slaves organized a small church that would eventually grow into the dynamic congregation of thousands it is today.

Rev. Jonathan Weaver is celebrating Greater Mt. Nebo Church’s 140th anniversary this month. (Courtesy photo)

“I stand in awe of the significance, fortitude, determination and resilience of people who under extreme adversity started a church during Reconstruction,” Weaver told the AFRO.

A special anniversary service to celebrate the legacy of a church whose first home was a log cabin built on one-acre of land (purchased for $134.55) in Poplar Ridge, Md. is scheduled to be held on Oct. 29.

In conjunction with its celebration, the church sponsored a prayer breakfast with African diplomats on Oct. 21. More than 200 people and diplomats from nearly a dozen African nations took part in the annual prayer breakfast of the Pan African Collective, which was held at Riderwood Retirement Community.

“If there ever was a moment to band together it is now,” said Weaver. He said that he and those present were challenged to do more than just talk about international partnerships.

“We were challenged to go beyond talking about coming together, we have to do something to get involved in something in some way,” Weaver said.

He said the Pan African Collective was established to “heighten, discuss and engage in the awareness of issues affecting the Diaspora.”

Arkana Chihomboriquao, ambassador to the United Nations from the African Union, was the event’s keynote speaker.

The group began in the Washington metropolitan area to foster a better understanding between people within the Diaspora.

Weaver has been the pastor of Greater Mount Nebo AME since 1988.

During his tenure, the church has grown from less than 100 members in 1988 to more than 1,200 members today. The church currently has 45 ministries and has produced two dozen ministers, both male and female.

In 1991, as a result of membership growth and space challenges, Greater Mount Nebo moved to an interim worship site at 401 Prince George’s Blvd. in Upper Marlboro, Md. In 1994, the church purchased 87 acres of land at the intersection of Route 301 and Central Avenue.

Going forward the church has ambitious plans to build affordable housing, a Family Life, Wellness and Inter-generational Center and an assisted-care living facility.