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Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project
The Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project in conjunction with the London Public Library will be screening an international award-winning feature film.
To celebrate the abolition of slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834 we will be screening the 2014 international award-winning feature film based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, an educated and accomplished free black man who was kidnapped and forced into slavery for twelve years.
A chance to discuss the movie will follow. This will be a free drop in event at the
Film rated 'R' for violence. (Running time: 134 minutes)
August 2, 2014 at 1 p.m.
With a picture on the front page and a leading story in the local news section of the London Free Press, the 2 cents worth campaign was officially launched on November 7, 2013.
In 1848, when the chapel was built, 2 cents represented an unskilled labourer's earnings for 15 minutes of work. A typical wage was one dollar for a 12 hour day. At today's minimum wage a labourer would earn about $2.50 in the same 15 minutes. The two cents worth campaign is to invite 18,000 people to give us there 2 cents worth, or what they earned in 15 minutes at their occupation. Of course any amount is welcome.
When we started this campaign we had already raised more than $20,000 and needed about another $45,000 to meet our first phase goal of $65,000. As of May, 2014, we have raised over $72,000 exceeding our Stage one goal and starting on the next phase which will go towards much needed repairs and restoration of the building. The support of the public, with about 600 individual donors, is overwhelming, but still short of the 18,000 that was the goal of the campaign, so we will continue to give the public an opportunity to participate to meet the needs of the next phases of of fund-raising efforts.
Currently our project is being held up due to paperwork, but as soon as the permits are in place, construction will begin. There is still some legal issues to deal with and we are working on getting those resolved as soon as possible.
We will not be able to determine the costs of renovations until we have possession of the building, but they are expected to be extensive. Aside from renovations we need sufficient office space to administer the needs of the Fugitive Slave Chapel and the Historic Beth Emanuel Church which will be its neighbour. It is hoped that both buildings can be restored to a point were they will accurately reflect their histories and both buildings could be opened to tourist and those researching the the religious history of the eras they represent.
In order to make the best use out of the historic buildings we need separate research facilities and office space. Also Beth Emanuel Church needs facilities for the current programs they are running and other programs they would like to initiate in the future. As an example, one current program is the Thursday evening meal that has seen up to 200 people come for a meal on a single evening. The current dining space can seat 40 people at a time. In conjunction with this, the church also gives away donated clothing on the same evening. The pews of the sanctuary are all draped with clothing every Thursday as there is no other place to accommodate this. These programs are not compatible with having valuable artefacts on display for logical reasons, so in order to keep the buildings open to those who wish to view their history, we would need other facilities to accommodate the programs of the church.
Rev. Dr. Delta McNeish, pastor of Beth Emanuel Church has complete confidence that our Heavenly Father will provide for the needs of the programs run by the church. So far food, clothing and money have come unsolicited to meet the needs of the programs. The biggest challenge has bee to find space to store the donated items. Sometimes the volunteer staff will panic when they realize that there is no food to serve the Thursday evening crowd, but Pastor Delta reminds them to have faith and food or money will show up just in time to meet the need.
Thus our attitude is that God will provide the means to do His Will. Our intention in informing the public about our project is to give them an opportunity to participate in this great opportunity. God has and will continue to move the hearts of His loved ones to participate in whatever capacity He has chosen for them. We find he often sends non believers to us and atheist, as well as believers in all faiths, have contributed to our project. We have a grand vision for this project but God will have to show us just how grand He wants it to be. We are sure that, at the completion of this project, we will have an edifice that will show us how great our God is.
With complete victory assured, we extend this invitation to allow the public to share with us in our vision. We do not wish to beg or try in any way to entice people to give unless they are completely happy to do so.
We wish to thank Chip Martin of the London Free Press for the great coverage of our campaign he has authored. It has helped to get the campaign started with a big bang. We have recently been informed that Mr. Martin has retired and we extend our best wishes and our pray that he will find great happiness in all he does.
To donate to to our project, go to our donation page. To participate in the programs of Beth Emanuel Church, you may donate on line through their Web site. You may also donate to either this project or Beth Emanuel's programs by mail. Please make your cheque payable to Beth Emanuel Church and indicate on the memo line which fund you are contributing to. You may mail your cheque to
Beth Emanuel BME Church
430 Grey St,
Non earmarked funds will go to the Church to be used were most needed.
Plans are in the works to move the Fugitive slave Chapel from 275 Thames St to 432 Grey St. in London Ontario. To prepare a foundation and move the building about $65,000 is required. The FSCPP has raised about $44,000 as of November 2013. See Fundraising details on our donations page. We are hopeful that the move can be completed befor the end of the year. Extensive renovations and a large addition to house outreach programs of Beth Emanuel church are also planned. An additional $900,000 or more may be needed for these next 2 phases. While the old Chapel itself will be dedicated to museum artefacts and the study of Black History, the new complex is expected to be a huge benefit to the London Community. Besides continuing the meal program that already feeds up to 200 people each week there are plans for educational and counselling programs that will make life for the financially challenged a little easier. To make a financial contribution, click on How to Donate.If you would like more information about the FSCPP send an email to email@example.com
When one needs support for a cause it is very important to keep it in the public eye, and to do that, we need the media. The challenge is to first get the attention of the media and then to be sure that the subject will attract the attention of the public. There are a few subjects that tend to grab attention and one is often money. People are interested in items that cost money and especially if it is their money or their tax dollars going to pay for the project. But how much money does it take to get the attention of the public. Government programs often cost hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. These figures will raise eyebrows, but how much money will really get public attention?
Try 2¢. What? Yes 2¢. Now, are you not curious? When 2¢ makes the headlines, don't you want to know why?
And that is what the Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project did. They launched the 2¢ worth campaign to raise the remaining $45,000 needed for phase one and it is working beautifully. Since 2¢ during the time the fugitive slave chapel was originally built is worth about $2.50 today the aim of the 2¢ worth campaign was to suggest that 18,000 concerned citizens could donate $2.50 and we would have the $45,000 that was needed. There were families that combined their money and sent a cheque with the results. At least one person sent in $1 and one person sent $10,000. The overall result for the first two weeks of the campaign was $20,000. It seems that, if you ask for a lot of money you will get a lot of no's. But try asking for 2¢ worth and many will respond with a resounding "yes, and we will do better, we will give you much more than you asked for."
There is one other factor that cannot be ignored, in fact it is the most important of all. This campaign was arrived at through much prayer. There is the Divine aspect to all of this. We are working under the guidance of the Almighty and it seems that He wants this little Chapel to be saved. And for this, the importance of the money pales beside the Heavenly Bounties that are being bestowed upon us. Yes, the result of bringing these two structures, that were built and dedicated to the worship of God, together will glorify the Almighty One. The Fugitive Slave Chapel, built about 1848, will be placed beside Beth Emanuel Church that was built in 1868-9 and replaced the old Chapel as the place of worship for the congregation. The richness of the history of these two buildings is astounding. Both buildings were involved in the formation of London as a community, but it is the religious history of these two buildings that is most important. Many say that the claim to fame for the Old Chapel was its role in the American Civil war, but this pales when compared to its role in the spiritual healing of an oppressed people. Slaves who were taught it was a sin against God to run from their masters congregated here and had to learn the Truth anew without the prejudices of their old masters who would often beat them while quoting scripture from the Bible. They needed to learn how to live as free persons without cruel masters to tell them what they must do. And adjust they did, and they did it well. The Black population of London came to London with almost nothing, yet managed, against all odds, to be among the most affluent of the community. The history books attest to this fact. And they did it without outside aid. Outside aid was often offered and many times accepted, but the results of it was often negative. Many a time the fugitive slave would just ask for equal opportunity, which they seldom got. Instead corrupt fund-raisers would raise money on their behalf and then run off with the money. Even when it did come, the general consensus was that handouts made people lazy, and this group of new arrivals was anything but lazy. They did not want laziness introduced to their members and were willing to work hard to build a community in London. Their contributions to the now City of London in Ontario, Canada, was the greatest of any group of people who settled here. For this there humble beginnings need to be remembered and preserved. Thus it is that I am proud to represent the Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project as its Chairman and proud to be a part of the organization that remembers the contributions of such an honourable class of people. The Fugitive Slaves brought honour and affluence to a Community that did not welcome them. However the resounding outpouring of those contributing to the cause of Saving the Fugitive slave Chapel echoes with a belated Welcome to those honourable citizens that came to reside here in the mid 1800's.
If you wish to participate and share in the honour of this project you can do that right now by going to Our donations page and making a contribution of any amount. Your 2¢ worth ($2.50) will be most welcome. If you give less or more, it does not matter. What matters is that you personally felt it was a cause worthy of your support and in that you honour those hardworking citizens who helped shape the community of London, Ontario. You can also send a cheque for any amount you please. Cheques should be made out to the Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project and sent to Beth Emanuel Church, 430 Grey St. London, Ontario. Canada. N6B 1H3.
Chairman of the Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project.
© 2013 George McNeish
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