The grand reopening of the Oro African Church will be a weekend long celebration and Oro-Medonte Council has set aside an extra $13,600 as a potential budget overrun to support events.
"Hundreds from across Canada and the US anticipate the day the church reopens to the public, while descendants and community members eagerly await to celebrate the revival of the nearly 170-year-old church," said Samah Othman, supervisor, communications and customer service
"As such, it is important for the Township to afford an opportunity for the general public to celebrate the success of the preservation project, fundraising campaign, and significance of the church."
Celebrations are planned to ensure the public is acknowledged for donations and contributions to the preservation project, and to recognize the countless volunteers and community members for efforts to preserve the church for over 70 years.
Also, the township will thank funding partners including, VACA, Clowes' Women's Institute, the County of Simcoe, Ontario Trillium Foundation and Park's Canada.
Designated as a National Historical Site in 2003, the Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church and the site it stands on is a tribute to the Black militiamen that served to defend Upper Canada during the War of 1812, subsequently Upper Canada land policy.
Research suggests that the church and cemetery may have existed prior to 1849. In 1946, the deteriorating condition of the church led the County of Simcoe and Clowes' Women's Institute to initiate an effort to repair the church, primarily as a historic site.
In 1948, the former Township of Oro became involved in undertaking the maintenance and repairs. Throughout the years, community members have come together to preserve the cultural heritage of the church and keep it functional.
Extensive renovations have happened this year to bring the facility back to its original glory.
A grand reopening of the church, at Old Barrie Road and Line 3, is scheduled for Aug. 19 and 20, with the main event on the last day featuring live entertainment and African cultural performances.
Scheduled events include:
- Plaque unveiling and official ribbon cutting - free event, open to public - Friday, Aug. 19 - 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Oro African Church Grand Re-opening Celebration at Georgian College Theatre - Saturday, Aug. 20 - 3 to 5 p.m.
Stay tuned for more information about tickets for the Georgian College event by going to www.oro-medonte.ca