Montgomery County to restore historic First Agape AME Zion Church at Gibson Grove

First Agape AME Zion Church in Montgomery County will restore its historical structures after the fire in 2004. Image: First Agape AME Zion Church

Montgomery County is set to restore the First Agape AME Zion Church at Gibson Grove to preserve its historic past and structure after a fire destroyed it in 2004. 

The county and an organization will embark on the restoration project expected to cost at least $3.2 million. 

Restoring Historic Montgomery County Church

In its decades-long attempt to keep alive the desire of a formerly enslaved woman, the congregation of a historic church in Montgomery County has been sharing a neighborhood synagogue. 

Passing through Gibson Grove, a community that has been forgotten, is a piece of local history that thousands of people on the Beltway see daily at the River Road exit.

According to MSN, although most of Gibson Grove is now hidden behind a fence and destroyed by the Beltway, this memorial serves as the only tangible reminder that it once existed. Nonetheless, the major drag that led to the destruction of a local landmark is still there, casting a shadow over its ruins.

Sara Gibson, who fled a plantation in Manassas during the first battle of Bull Run, created the focal point to memorialize her escapees.

According to Rev. Edgar Bankead, Sr., the arrival of the Beltway divided the neighborhood. He said that when people leave, the community collapses.

Destroyed by 2004 Fire

Per the report, a significant setback occurred on Ash Wednesday of 2004. All the work done to restore the building damaged by a fire in the old oil furnace.

At the time of the fire, the transfer of title to the new congregation had not been formalized.

Nothing happened to the remnants of the structure for a long time. Since then, the facade has been fixed, and preparations for the new church have begun slowly due to certain bothersome obstacles.

Years after the fire, Montgomery County decided to restore the historical church. Still, there were a few challenges before they completely rebuild the church. 

With an estimate of $3.2 million, the church is asking for some funds to accomplish its goals with the help of people and other organizations. 

Commitment To Rebuild the Church

First Agape has finished the blueprints for its upcoming church expansion. Accordingly, the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission has approved the preliminary design. It has also completed the church's stabilizing phase.

What comes next is the stage in the process of identifying the graves located behind the church. 

It also hopes to cut down and reuse the trees in the area that were once utilized in the church's construction.

About First Agape AME Zion Church

In keeping with Sarah Gibson's 1898 promise to the Lord, members of First Agape AME Zion Church are restoring Gibson Grove Church and repairing relationships with the surrounding neighborhood through prayer, Bible study, and community service.

According to the website, the church has been used for over a century. Its congregation was the second oldest in the Cabin John area. 

The church was named after Sarah Gibson, a formerly enslaved person from Virginia who settled in the area just after the Civil War.

 Pastor Edgar S. Bankhead leads First Agape AME Zion Church in Gibson Grove. He is a highly qualified and dedicated biblical scholar. To the ministry, he has committed more than half his life. 

He married a certified counselor named D. Judith Bankhead. The couple was blessed with three grown sons in their family.

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