Union Bethel AME Church in Maryland Celebrates Church Building Ownership by Burning Mortgage

4798Union Bethel AME Church's 11 a.m. service was more special than usual June 9.

Union Bethel mortgage is burned in June 9 ceremony. Photo/Union Bethel (Courtesy Photo)
The congregation celebrated 27 years of Rev. Dr. Harry L. Seawright's leadership but the highlight of the day was burning the mortgage for the massive church building in Brandywine, Md. and 38 of the 55 acres the church sits on.

Amid dancing and singing, seven members of the building committee 22 years ago set the church on the path to occupy a $1.6-million property beamed.

"You could see how pleased they were when Pastor Seawright asked them to stand," Pamela King-Williams, the church's public relations director, said of the moment during the service when the pastor and congregation reflected on finishing what they started in 1991 when the decision was made to build a new sanctuary connected to their old church building. 

Twenty-two years--and countless fund raising events and collections later to make sure that payments were made on time, the congregation is now owner of the building and 38 acres of land. 

After realizing by the 1980s that Union Bethel AME had outgrown a tiny country church sitting on rolling southern Maryland farmland with steps leading to a center aisle in a crowded sanctuary building; Seawright shut down the church and started holding services in the nearby Gwynn Park High School. 

Sooner than they expected the modern structure took shape and they moved into new digs.

They weren't alone in their mortgage burning celebration. The 11 a.m. service was attended by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, county councilman Mel Franklin and a representative from the office of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). 

Source: AFRO.com | Courtney Jacobs
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