Oro African Church Preservation
The Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church, built between 1846 and 1849, is a designated National Historic Site. It is one of the last extant buildings erected by a community of African Canadians whose roots were uniquely anchored in the history of United Empire Loyalists and represents the important role that Black militiamen played in the defense of Upper Canada during the War of 1812, and also represents early Upper Canada land policy.
The Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of, if not, the oldest African log church still standing in North America. This Church stands as a testament to both the Black Settlers who carefully crafted and cared for it for nearly 75 years and passionate community volunteers who have worked diligently to preserve it since its abandonment in the 1920's.
In 2013, the Township acquired the services of Heritage Consultants to prepare a Cultural Heritage Assessment (CHA) to assess the building condition and develop a long term strategy for its preservation. The assessment concluded that the condition of the Church is far worse than expected, and as a result it was closed to the public until a comprehensive restoration effort could be undertaken. Its survival is now at risk.
The CHA provides a number of recommendations and is guiding efforts to restore and preserve the church for future generations. The full report is available under Cultural Heritage Assessment to the right.
This modest place of worship is more than a National Historic Site. From the first day of worship until today, the African Church has engendered heartfelt emotions from many people regardless of race, gender, age, or religion. Fundraising is currently underway to address the significant funding shortfall required to advance the restoration in 2015.