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Locust United Methodist Church
Contact: Evelyn Millhouse-Fort
Telephone: (410) 531-5323
Release Date: February 16, 2024


$233,500 GRANT “Award Enables Preservation of the History of 154-year-old Church with ties to Harriet Tubman”


Columbia, MD – Just before the official start of Black History Month, Locust United Methodist Church was awarded a $233,500 grant by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust.

The award was one of 24 grants awarded by the African American Heritage Preservation Program to Maryland nonprofit groups for FY 2024.

Governor Wes Moore announced the award on January 19th in Annapolis, MD., marking the first-time selection of a Howard County church as an award recipient.

Rev. Marion Easterling, Jr., the pastor of Locust UMC, surprised his congregation with the news after a Sunday church service, describing it (the award) as confirmation for the ministry that has been in place for more than 150 years.


“This is recognition of who we are and what we are doing. History needs to be preserved, and this is a major confirmation,” Rev. Easterling said. “This is not just directed at Locust.


There’s a whole concept of how, when we are moving in faith, God will reward us for being obedient. He doesn’t want us to be anything but successful.”

As Locust UMC enters the final phase of upgrading and expanding its existing building constructed in 1951, the grant is especially welcomed.

“This gives a new sense of energy and perspective to our ministry,” Rev. Easterling stated. “We have it within ourselves to pass on a legacy from generation to generation. That demonstrates faith.”

Established in 1869 by a group of formerly enslaved people, Locust UMC has stood witness to history. It is credibly rumored that Harriet Tubman hid in Locust’s cemetery while leading escapes. In addition, Howard County’s Branch of the NAACP was organized at Locust in 1944.

In April, Governor Moore described a funding increase of AAHPP grants from $1 million to $5 million as “a critical tool for the protection of African American sites throughout Maryland.” As stated earlier, Locust is among 24 churches and nonprofits to receive funding that supports initiatives improving sites related to African American heritage.

Locust UMC is located at the corner of Martin Road and Freetown Road in Columbia, MD. In addition to worship services, and Bible study groups, Locust continues outreach initiatives and partnerships.


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