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Donor Spotlight

Jo Ellen Diehl Yeary | Generosity rooted in pride, remembrance, dedication to home

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Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church

To donate to the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, click here.

Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church – located in Burlington, Ohio – was the first Black Church west of the Alleghenies/Appalachians, was the first Black Church in Ohio, and is the only extant antebellum Black Church still standing in the state of Ohio.

Listed as one of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites, Macedonia Church is a critically endangered cultural & historic site. Due to the effects of time & elements, the Church structure is deteriorating and is in dire need of emergency stabilization and restoration, with the hopes of leveraging the Church as an educational center or historical & cultural heritage park site where Macedonia’s rich history & contributions, along with the interconnected Underground Railroad & Black history of the region, will be elevated, amplified, & shared broadly.

Through generous contributions from our donors, the Macedonia Restoration Project successfully completed the church’s historic structure report, a crucial step toward reopening the historic structure as a community and educational center.

The Jeffris Family Foundation awarded the Macedonia Restoration Project a Capital Campaign Challenge Grant, designed to reinvigorate local donations toward preserving and renovating Macedonia’s historic structure.

Your continued support and contributions will count toward this challenge grant and will allow for necessary structural repairs of the church, including additions of an access ramp, an electrical system, and more. Our goal is a grand reopening of historic Macedonia Church in Fall 2024.

We are incredibly grateful to all our generous patrons for their continued and invaluable support, which empowers efforts to preserve Macedonia Church.

National Park Service, Save America’s Treasures Grant, with thanks to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown — This project is being supported in part by a Historic Preservation Fund grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preserving Black Churches Grant — With support from the Lilly Endowment Inc., this project was funded by a grant from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, with thanks to Ohio Senator Bob Peterson
Lawrence Economic Development Corp., with thanks to the Appalachian Regional Commission
Jeffris Family Foundation
African American Community Fund, in partnership with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio — This project is being supported in part by a grant from the African American Community Fund, a regional affiliate of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.
National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom — This project is assisted by a grant from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
Lawrence County Community Foundation, in partnership with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
… and donors like you!

Macedonia's members began worshipping together in the 1790s & built the extant church structure in 1849. Macedonia Church was the central site of this Free Black community's self-determination, self-sufficiency, and power -- functioning as the focal communication hub, the schoolhouse where children were educated, a night school where adults were taught reading & writing, a "courthouse" where community disputes were internally resolved, a hall where social events took place, and a co-op where Macedonia's farmers were aided & advised on how to distribute harvested crops throughout their Free Black Settlement, and of course, a religious gathering & worship site -- at a time when Ohio's Black Laws and active slavecatcher gangs existed.

Macedonia Church & Settlement members courageously worked the front lines of the Underground Railroad. Macedonia became a natural gateway to the UGRR from southern slave states - often the first stop for freedom seekers escaping slavery in VA [now WV] & KY as they crossed the "River Jordan" (the Ohio River) to the "Promised Land" (northern free territory). Macedonia is well-documented aiding & assisting those seeking liberation, sanctuary, and safety, its ministers & members often guiding individuals through the woods to other UGRR stations and welcoming self-emancipated, manumitted, and free-born Black folks into their established, thriving settlement.

Macedonia Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Macedonia Church was awarded an Ohio Historical Marker in 2003. The Church was listed as one of Ohio's Most Endangered Historic Sites in 2020. Macedonia Free Black Settlement Cemetery was awarded an Ohio Historical Marker through a generous grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation in 2021. Macedonia Church was added to the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program in 2020. Macedonia was featured on PBS's Finding Your Roots (John Legend Episode; Season 1 Ep.9, 2012).

Macedonia Church was spotlighted at The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Lyceum Black History Institute at Marshall University 2020 & 2021, the Appalachian Studies Association Conference: Toward Antiracism in Appalachian Studies 2021, on Heritage Ohio's "Preservation Shorts" Webinar (2021, 31:31), and discussed during The McKinney Center's event "Useable Past: Spotlighting Successful Regional Development" (25:40). Macedonia was a final round competitor for The National Trust for Historic Preservation's America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2021; it was selected to re-submit a full nomination in 2022. The Macedonia Settlement Cemetery, along with the courageous United States Colored Troops resting in the sacred burial grounds, was spotlighted at the Army Corps of Engineers' Black History Month event in February 2022.

Gifts to Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church are tax-deductible. Donations can be made online here. To mail your donation, mail to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, 35 Public Square, Nelsonville, OH 45764.