Sierra Leone News: After 60 years…St. John’s Maroon Church gets proclamation certificate
Sixty-years after it was declared a national monument, the St. Johns Maroon Church, on Siaka Stevens Street, last Sunday, received a Certificate of Proclamation from the Monument and Relics Commission pursuant to the Monument and Relics Ordinance of 1946.
The Church, one of the oldest Methodist churches in Sierra Leone was built by the Maroons, one of the early settlers of the area in Sierra Leone.
The Chair of the Monuments and Relics Commission, Isatu Smith, presented the certificate to the church. She said, “The church was declared a national monument on the 4th of August 1956. I am pleased to handover this document on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone and the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. This document guarantees that the church is a government-protected asset.”
She explained the Commission’s mandate to maintain every asset that has been proclaimed a national monument. “It is our utmost duty to restore and maintain the structure of the church adding that an engineering firm was hired by the Commission to do the job.”
Victor Baba Richards, the Senior Society Steward of the church said, “As a church, we are overjoyed to receive such a document that was 60 years old.” He said they will endeavour to keep the church going and ensure that they preserve the church so that future generations will appreciate the legacy.
By Edna Smalle
Here is a bit of your history Lesson on the Church
St. John’s Maroon Church is a Methodist church located in Maroon Town, a district of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. It is one of the oldest churches in the country.
The Jamaican Maroons were men, women and children, originating from the Gold Coast in Africa, who had surrendered at the end of the Second Maroon War in Jamaica. They had been deported to Nova Scotia by the colonial authorities in 1796. They were then transported to Freetown in 1800, where their opportune arrival and assistance enabled the authorities put down a rebellion by some of the Nova Scotian Settlers, the founders of Freetown. They settled down in an area that became known as Maroon Town.
The Maroons gradually gave up their African beliefs and converted to Christianity. In 1820, they received a grant of land between Percival and Liverpool Street in Maroon Town. Uncomfortable worshiping in Nova Scotian chapels, a group led by Charles Shaw Harding built St. John’s Maroon Church in 1822. It is a small white building surrounded by a low white wall.
While the Maroons gradually integrated into Freetown society, many of them continued to attend the church. They followed their own brand of Methodism and maintained their independence of the Methodist establishment until 1900. The congregation has dwindled, but still survives. The 200th anniversary of the founding of the congregation of St John’s Maroon Church was celebrated in 2007.
The church was declared a national heritage site in 1956 under the Monuments and Relics Ordinance of 1 June 1947.