Save America’s Treasures grant to help return Ohio’s first Black church to service
BURLINGTON, Ohio – Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church has received a $100,000 Save America’s Treasures grant for a revitalization project that will return Ohio’s first Black church to service as a historic site and community center.
The Save America’s Treasures grant program, through the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior, was established in 1998 to celebrate the nation’s premier cultural resources.
Established in 1849 in Lawrence County, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church is Ohio’s only surviving antebellum Black church. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and, in 2020, was listed as one of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites and joined the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.
“The history and legacy of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church are significant not only to Ohio but to our nation,” said Charles Linthicum, a member of the church’s board of trustees, which is composed of descendants of the Macedonia congregation. “We are grateful to the National Park Service and many others who are investing in the preservation and future use of this historic treasure.”
The church’s revitalization 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.
In addition to the Save America’s Treasurers grant, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the revitalization effort has received funding from the state of Ohio, the National Park Service’s 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.
With a goal of reopening the church in fall 2024, the project includes repairs to the structure, doors, windows, siding, electrical system and flooring, as well as HVAC, accessibility, security and lighting improvements.
Last month, FAO announced that the Jeffris Family Foundation has awarded a Capital Campaign Challenge Grant to support the church’s revitalization, providing the final $36,500 to complete the project if an additional $73,000 in funding is secured by June 30, 2026. AACF has invested $25,000 in lead match toward the grant requirement.