The Saint Paul Community Church (“the Church”), located at 14730 Sugarland Land, Poolesville, Maryland 20837, does not hold weekly services, due to the small membership. We do, however, hold funerals, weddings, annual services, homecomings, annual Heritage Day, and host guest Church services.
In addition, the Church is used for services whenever the need arises and when there are special occasions. On many occasions, the community comes together just to fellowship and worship at the Church. The Church is available to the community to be used for worship services or community Church activities.
Welcome to SugarlandEthnoHistoryProject.org. Our purpose is to preserve the Black, African-American Historical Resources in Sugarland Community, Montgomery County, Poolesville, Maryland.
This site is for any and everyone interested in learning about the Black/African-American history of Sugarland Community, and their transition from slavery to freedom.
Freed slaves established the Sugarland Forest Community in Maryland in the late 1800's. Members of the Pleasant family sold the land to these former slaves. Sugarland operated as an autonomous Black township serviced by a church, school, post office, and store. In recent years (since the 1970's) there has been a considerable drop in population. The church (pictured above) received historical landmark status in 1996 sparking a renewed interest in this historical community.
Visit the Upcoming Events Page to view the Gospel Program announcment.
Donations can be made to:
The Historic St. Paul Community Church,
P.O. Box 388
Poolesville, MD 20837
A Word from Gwen Hebron Reese
Slavery, with all its physical restrictions and mental anguish, could never restrict the spirit of one’s mind from communicating with the Lord in meditation and prayer. The bond of one’s unity with the Lord proves to be the wellspring of survival. We have this testimony, for we are the descendants and they as forbearers – our pilgrimage.
Our ancestors are a people, torn from their tribes in the native homeland of Africa, brought to foreign soil in servitude, sold to the highest bidder and expected to obey commands from a language with which they were not familiar. Also noteworthy, each tribe spoke their own language and there was no guarantee that they were in communication with each other. With this in view, one must acknowledge the source from which strength is drawn. A cliché such as “only the strong survive” is not sufficient to bear the weight of such a dire circumstance. Being severely disciplined was the measuring rod used to facilitate understanding and conformity to submissive obedience. I would suppose that language became an incidental as opposed to becoming a necessity. Out of this bleakness, hope was nurtured and faith prevailed.
And thus, progressed the time of exits from enslaved bondage to programmed bondage – the illusion of freedom into reality. Shall we become as the castaway? I think not. We shall gather together the knowledge we have acquired, gird our hearts with love and, with oneness of mind, diligently persevere, forging ahead in thanksgiving, fellowship, and loyalty unto the one true and just overseer.
In your youth perhaps you, like many others, have verbalized hopes and dreams of future success. Such as, the things you are going to accomplish in life after college: riches, fame and fortune topping the list of achievements. The monies needed to ensure preparation for this journey may have been readily available to some but for others, a mere fantasy. Imagine with me an exodus from slavery, a combination of generations encompassing infants to the elderly, without a background in this country’s educational system, and without funding; a people left to brave the elements of a hostile society, while also providing shelter, food, and meeting the basic needs of the individual families and the group as a whole. Given this dilemma, what would be your choices and how would you survive? Pause a moment with me and hear them encouraging one another by way of remembrances, proclaiming the Savior’s faithfulness. Piercing the solemn quietness, one voice beginning a hymn with a moan that seemed to emanate deep down in the belly, making its way up and out, becoming contagious in the assembly of hearts and souls; and they too, lift up their voices in unison with oneness of spirit. Look upon them singing the song with renewed enthusiasm as a new and marvelous experience, not noticeably intimidating that it could bring about repercussions should a complaint be made concerning the noise level. I think of a child, after being presented with a new toy, overflowing with joy and delight, and having to obey the command, “play quietly, do not make noise.” Behold, the voice of joy in a state of suppression refusing to be denied as it flows through that small body in an unparalleled expression of movements.
Discipline also arose from a state of suppression, along with order, directives and an agreement of the body to establish a community. A settlement where they could raise up a house of worship in commemoration of God’s fulfilled promise to them. The edifice was not raised upon a hill nor could it be found in the valley but along the roadside in the heart of the community. It soon became the pulse of the community. In a sense, one could say it embodied the education, judiciary, economics, social and Christian assembly. Fellowship, praise and prayer tempered every aspect of one’s life. Each individual family became an extension of the community family. Where was this place and does it exist today? Sugarland, as it is identified today, was originally known as “Sugarland Forest” in the early 1870’s. Sugarland is located in upper Western Montgomery County, and is sandwiched between the towns of Poolesville and Seneca in the State of Maryland. It is here in Sugarland where our founding families began the awesome task of making a place – a homeland. We are the fruit bearers in their stead, having this witness: without them, we would not have existed. Without us, their legacy would not pass from generation to generation. How gracious the tribute!
Many of the landmark dwelling places are no longer standing in Sugarland, having been swallowed up in forestry. Descendants remaining in the neighborhood are few in number. However, the old landmark by the roadside, the house of worship, in the heart of the community, remains to this day attesting to the living, honoring its dead, and glorifying our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The historical marker inscription, located on Sugarland Road, acknowledges the edifice: “The Historic St. Paul Community Church is the heart of the Sugarland community, established by freed slaves after emancipation.” Her doors remain open, extending greetings and welcoming fellowship. I have come to unveil that it is but His grace acknowledging us, for it is out of the bowels of His tender mercies we are made known.
I conclude: Let the words kindle our ears to inflame our hearts to burn away the chaff encasing our souls that we come forth as pure gold vessels honorable before God and in the sight of man. Amen.
Authored by Gwen Hebron Reese
February 9, 2003