Tracing the Community : Black History

by Gloria McKinney   Continued from part 1

The first church in Cabin John was founded by ex-slaves who felt the need to have a house of worship in their community. Mrs. Sara Gibson was a native of Virginia. She was a seamstress, responsible for sewing and knitting. However, when there was no sewing to be done, she joined her husband, Louis, in the fields. Louis Gibson was a wagon driver on a plantation in Virginia, but sometimes worked the fields.

When the Civil War ended, the Yankee soldiers forced the slaves to leave plantations. Mrs. Gibson and her two children were separated from her husband. With no set place in mind to go, she headed for Bull Run and crossed the treacherous waters on a log with both children under her arms. She headed for Washington, DC and Shiloh Baptist Church, which at that time was a meeting place for slaves. The entire family was reunited at Shiloh.

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During the colonial period, blacks and whites worshipped together in the New York and Philadelphia-based Methodist of America churches. Whites insisted that blacks be seated in the balcony and receive their communion after all the whites had left the church. In the late 1870’s, about 60 black members withdrew from the church in New York and formed their own church, called Mother Zion. In rebellion to the whites, they called their organization the African Methodist Episcopal Zion. 

The Gibson Church

The Gibsons must have embraced the African Methodist Episcopal movement. From D.C., the Gibsons went to work on a farm in Potomac and 16 years later they bought 4 ½ acres of land, probably from Old Man Moore (J.D.W Moore), on Seven Locks Road. Mrs. Gibson gave part of her land to build a church. The church was started in 1898 in a log cabin. As a tribute to Mrs. Gibson’s goodness, the members of the congregation named the church after her: Gibson Grove A.M.E Zion.

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