Mount Gilead Community Church is located on the top ridge of Buckingham Mountain, overlooking a broad limestone valley settled in the early 18th century by industrious Quaker families. A community of free people of African descent formed on the Buckingham Mountain in the early 1800s, and by 1822 the community included fifteen members of the newly-formed African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. This group originally worshipped with the neighboring AME congregation at Mount Moriah in New Hope. In 1834 the community was large enough to organize Mount Gilead as an independent church, and a small log meetinghouse was built on land deeded to the church by Daniel Yeomans, who served as the minister for many years.
In 1852 the congregation replaced the small log chapel with the present stone church building, constructed of very hard rose quartz and iron-veined stones from the mountain. The African-American population grew quickly in this period, partly due to the settlement of fugitives fleeing north along the Underground Railroad. However, the congregation began to dwindle in the late 19th century as families moved off the mountain and joined other churches. By the early 20th century regular services ceased. In the 1940s a white revivalist congregation, called as “Wolf Rockers” after a rocky outcrop on Buckingham Mountain known as Wolf Rocks, used the church for about a decade.
Although the church had lost its congregation, the property was maintained for many years by William Hopkins, whose ancestors worshipped at Mount Gilead for generations, and his wife Mildred. John Reinhardt took over from Hopkins and faithfully maintained the property for many years until his death in 2014. After Reinhardt’s passing, a community group organized to assume responsibility for this historic church.
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