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Vandalized Historic Black church in Maryland part of $4M preservation grants

The first round of funding from the Preserving Black Churches grant program includes Scotland AME Zion Church in Potomac, Maryland.

POTOMAC, Md. — A historic Black church in Potomac, Maryland, that was burglarized and vandalized last year is one of 35 historic Black churches nationwide to receive part of $4 million in grants.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced the list of churches to receive grant money last month as part of the Action Fund's Preserving Black Churches grant program. Scotland AME Zion Church is among those churches receiving funds.

The Action Fund’s Preserving Black Churches program is a $20 million initiative funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. to help historic Black churches and congregations reimagine, redesign, and deploy historic preservation to protect the cultural assets and legacies they steward, tell their stories of resiliency and hope, and carry their missions into the future. With more than $80 million in funding, the Action Fund is the largest U.S. resource dedicated to the preservation of African American historic places. 

Police are still searching for suspects that broke into the Scotland AME Zion Church back in November and vandalized it. The suspects were caught on surveillance video.

According to the church's website, the church was built by hand and opened in 1924 by Black congregants in Potomac. 

"Registered as a State Historic Site by the Maryland Historical Trust, today the church is the only historic building to survive in the Scotland community. It is a site of struggle, triumph, and resiliency that deserves to be celebrated and supported," the website states.

This Action Fund gift — its largest to date — helps ensure that historic Black churches continue to drive change in our society.

“Leaving an indelible imprint on our society, historic Black churches hold an enduring legacy of community, spirituality, and freedom that continues to span generations,” said Brent Leggs, executive director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and senior vice president, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The Action Fund created the Preserving Black Churches program to recognize and celebrate the Black church for its contributions on American life, culture, and history, while also investing in their physical permanence and financial sustainment into the future. We are honored to award our first round of grantees with the resources needed to ensure the Black church continues to stand in its fullest glory.” 

Prior to the grant announcement, and vandalism, Scotland AME Zion Church was fundraising for a renovation after the historic building was damaged by flooding in 2019. 

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