Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant to support final stage of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church restoration
FAO’s African American Community Fund awards $25,000 in lead match for the project
BURLINGTON, Ohio – The Jeffris Family Foundation has awarded a Capital Campaign Challenge Grant to support the restoration of the historic Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Appalachian Ohio’s Lawrence County.
Established in 1849, Macedonia Missionary Baptist is Ohio’s first Black church and its only surviving antebellum Black church. The church was listed as one of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites in 2020.
“With this funding, we look to partner with the donors, advocates and preservationists who are working to ensure that this treasured piece of history and heritage is passed on to future generations,” said Tom Jeffris, president of the Jeffris Family Foundation.
The Capital Campaign Challenge Grant will provide $36,500 for the church’s restoration project if an additional $73,000 in funding is secured by June 30, 2026.
The restoration project is a partnership of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Board of Trustees; the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), which serves as the project’s fiscal agent; and the African American Community Fund (AACF), an FAO affiliate that serves as the project’s fundraising partner.
Established by and for the Black community as one way to create opportunities for African Americans throughout Appalachian Ohio, AACF has awarded $25,000 in lead match toward the Capital Campaign Challenge Grant requirement.
“We are grateful and honored to join the Jeffris Family Foundation and other generous contributors in not only preserving our region’s history but building upon it,” said Ernie Bynum, AACF co-founder and committee member. “Through this project, we will elevate and amplify Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church’s rich history as we seek to protect and promote the broader Black history of Appalachian Ohio.”
Funding from a 2022 Jeffris Heartland Fund matching grant and matching funds from AACF, its Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Fund, the Lawrence County Community Foundation (an FAO geographic affiliate) and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program provided the final financing needed to complete a historic structure report for the church. The report assessed the church’s current condition and recommended a restoration plan.
The restoration project will return Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church to service as a historic site and community center. The project has secured funding from the state of Ohio, the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures grant program and its National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with support from the Lilly Endowment Inc.
“The Jeffris Family Foundation’s latest funding and matching funds are the last of the financing needed to take this long-awaited project over the finish line,” said Charles Linthicum, a member of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Board of Trustees, composed of descendants of the Macedonia congregation. “The rebirth of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church will not only preserve and share the legacies of those who made our region and nation what it is today but also inspire future generations to establish their legacies.”