Church built by former slaves, attended by Harriet Tubman in dire need of repairs


Originally published at:


Looks great from the outside.

Side note, Fundraisers can/usually set 80% of donations aside for administration and over head. Sad.

Today, less than 12 members attend the Salem Chapel. Some are African American freedom seeker descendants whose ancestors attended the church in the 1850s.

Wow. Perhaps it is time to turn it over to the National Heritage Ministry and let they handle the on going maintenance.


Can I have any guarantee that not ONE PENNY of the donation to the church up keep will be going to the minister’s salary for preaching to 11 people? And if those 11 people aren’t Church Secretary, Church Historian, Church Youth Group leader?

Nope? Well no.

I’m from Alabama and this smells like a Roy Moore ‘born again’ funding thing where they get donations and spend it on admin costs for family members.


…If they really wanted to turn it into a funding thing. A secular funding thing.
Don’t make it a church. Take those 11 members and have them scour their closets and attics…Hire a legit historian, archivist. Preserve all old letters, quilts, handicrafts…and video tape peoples stories and interviews…and turn it into a museum. And have it answer to whatever Canadian arts/history heritage boards that exist.


I have a friend who visited last year. He feels the donation will will serve the physical church. I am ok with $50 misspent cad if the church stands.

I am not certain the accuracy of “Alabama” as a positive indicator for an antislavery heritage preservationist – but you use it strongly as such so please illuminate…


It wasn’t intended as a indicator of a antislavery heritage situation.
It was about race free statements of ‘religious’ heritage. Such as Roy Moore did with his charity…and him as the guy that got the benefits.
And general religious (not race…but church) using funding. Things I saw repairing hard drives for Presbyterians in the 80’s (A CORVUS). Most of the deacons had 19 yo daughters as youth counselors and family members as secrataries…making 60k.
EDIT EDIT: Alabama wasn’t susposed to be positive indicator…but a warning for things I’ve seen here and things that are in the news now…about payments to religious people.

My comments come from how religious people (Like Roy Moore, or "Love Offering’…Alabama white guy Guy Hunt) shuffle off donations to their pocket.


There is a 1650 French Canadian back waters trading post, forgotten about and zoned as residential unto a Township century’s later. A septic system was built amongst antiquities.


Hold on. Black lives matter. Therefore, Black churches matter. The Black church was historically the only institutional support available to kidnapped slaves & their descendants, who were shut out of secular power structures. The Black church sheltered liberated slaves, served as a station on the Underground Railroad, & disguised radical community-building practices including those of the old African religions. It serves quite a different function to the Caucasian megachurch business model.
Edit: This is a reply to all the commenters who are quick to judge; accidentally posted as a reply to jlw.


Why? why shouldn’t this be there for the parishioners?


I totally agree. This church should NOT be taken from the congregation. The immediate knee jerk reaction that the state needs to swoop in and take charge and take this space away is a bit disturbing, if you ask me.



Well, it seems the 11 parishioners are having difficultly maintaining structural up keep. Handing it over to the Heritage Ministry could preserve the building’s historical significance. And perhaps the descendants could act as custodians or provide tours etc.


Why shouldn’t they use the location as a site of worship, as was it’s original intent? And isn’t it already a historical site? Why do you think you know better than the people who go here how their property, which they have deep ties to, should be used?


Don’t assume I know better, I am offering suggestions off the cuff. Instead of attacking what I say, how about you offer your suggestions of how they could over come their financial burden.


Your comment seems to indicate that you think you do know better, though. maybe you didn’t not intend that, but it was incredibly tone deaf. This is still a living site where people’s lives are being lived, not an old abandoned location with no people attached to them.

I think the state contributing to the rebuilding of the church would be great, without taking it out of the hands of the congregation - it’s already a historic site, so the state can help fund the rennovations. I thing the go fund me is a great idea. Local community fund raising would also be great. Tours are a good idea, as long as the site is perserved for its intended purpose. There are any number of ideas that don’t include cutting off individuals from their physical heritage, which is the most important aspect of historic preservation. It’s paternalistic, at best.

In Atlanta, the original site of Ebneezer Baptist is preserved and a newer, larger church was built across the street, right behind the King center. But that was the choice of the congregation, not the state. Historical preservation should reflect the wishes of the community whose histories are being preserved, not the state’s view of how that history should be remembered. I’m all for community driven historical preservation, not nation-building actions by the state. The state should encourage that, not actively impose a narrative on the community.


“Despite” my a-religious leanings, i think it’s important to keep the congregation there. The continuing congregation is an important part of the historical context* of the church.

* If this is actual historian jargon, i apologize if it means something other than what i mean here.


No, that’s perfect use of historical jargon!

I also think it’s important to remember, as @abutilon noted, the liberatory role played by the black church in abolition and civil rights. It was a location of organizing, safety, communal expression of unity, etc. The black church, in other words, was central to the American civil rights movement, especially in the period prior to the end of slavery.


Couldn’t it be both a church AND a national historical place? Doesn’t the US have churches that are both?


If I understand it, it already is a historical place. Some posters here seem to think that this some sort of dirty trick to enrich the preacher at the expense of the Canadian tax payer, and they also seem upset about the go fund me project to raise money, for the same reason.

Comparing it to racist, sexist, homophobic Roy Moore.

Because a church built by former slaves and serving their descendants are literally just like Roy Moore.


There is a LOT of cynicism of Christians among some people especially atheists. Especially when you compare them to the mega churches and wealthy preachers. Every week I see such memes including if you taxed churches we would only need a 3% tax rate. There are unfortunately a lot of people using religion to make money. Even small churches can be run by unscrupulous people. I don’t know enough about this case to get that sense. Though for $500k I would think you could build that church from scratch, but I concede this isn’t my area of expertise. But I assume some one giving grant money would do the due diligence.


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