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Windsor Square: Overview of North Buxton Church Situation
Kim Elliot | October 8, 2018

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North Buxton Church Fight Heats Up

http://www.windsorsquare.ca/archives/2018/north-buxton-church-fight-heats-up/115871

From Issue No. 271 | October 8, 2018

North Buxton Church Fight Heats Up

The North Buxton Community Church, a place of peaceful worship, is at the centre of a battle of ownership pitting the congregation against the British Methodist Episcopal Church.<br>Photo by Ian Shalapata.

The North Buxton Community Church, a place of peaceful worship, is at the centre of a battle of ownership pitting the congregation against the British Methodist Episcopal Church.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

(NORTH BUXTON, ON)  Dating back to 1855, a small congregation of former slaves and their contemporary Afri-Canadian descendants have taken up spiritual sanctuary together in a village now known as North Buxton. Yet despite their 163 years of continuous Christian praise, worship, and fellowship the church is being pressured to vacate the physical sanctuary located on Shadd Road in the picturesque hamlet in Raleigh Township, southwest of Chatham.

Not only is the congregation, currently known as the North Buxton Community Church, feeling the squeeze to leave, they are also clinging to the cemetery ground surrounding it, where lay many of their ancestors.

The current saga has also drawn the ire of non-church members and extended family as well as the support other church groups from various denominations beyond the municipality.

Tamara Muise, whose maternal grandfather and other relatives took to social media to fervently draw attention to this cause and rally the troops. Her efforts, and those of a few others, resulted in the attendance of hundreds of supporters to the last planned Worship Service on Sunday, June 24. It was the last date prior to eviction.

The attendees were met with good news of biblical proportion from pastor Clarke. A Windsor lawyer, Steve Pickard, of Colautti, Landry, Pickford Law, caught wind of the churchs plight and offered his services pro bono.

The North Buxton school house was home to the first congregation of churchgoers until their own place of worship could be constructed.<br>Photo by Ian Shalapata.

The North Buxton school house was home to the first congregation of churchgoers until their own place of worship could be constructed.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Since that time he has dug into the churchs long dated history and unearthed that the British Methodist Episcopal Church, under which the church property and 18 others in the Ontario are designated, was being held in trust due to an act of incorporation dating back to 1913.

The Buxton Mission was founded as an outreach of the Presbyterian Church of Canada under the leadership of the Reverend William King, just prior to the US Civil War. The minister and a group former slaves from the US met for nearly 10 years in the local district school house before the congregation was able to build and support their own place of worship. St Andrews Presbyterian Church was formed with Rev King as their first pastor.

But, in the 1920s, the churchs congregation decided to join the United Conference and became known as the First Union Methodist Church. They met in what is now known as South Buxton.

Most Methodist churches established by former slaves were affiliated with the African Methodist Conference. The First Union Methodist Church was briefly a part of the AME before becoming a member of the British Methodist Conference in 1856.

 

Editors Notes: I had the opportunity to attend the Homecoming in North Buxton over Labour Day weekend. I highly recommend it as way to get to know this remarkable community. Having the descendants of the original settlers, who run the museum, show you the collection of buildings and artifacts really brought the place to life.
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