The third annual Historic Camp Meeting Revival will be held Sept. 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Skillman Park. This year’s event will feature the Capital City Gospel Singers and special guest Bertha Morgan.
Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Tickets are $25 for adults ($30 at the gate) and $10 for children ages 7 to 12. Children under 7 are free. Proceeds benefit the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, the first African-American museum in Central Jersey. To purchase tickets, visit sourland.org.
The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum will be housed in the one-room Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church on Hollow Road, one of the most historic buildings in the Sourlands. Constructed sometime before 1850 on Sourland Mountain, the AME Church served the area’s black population. When the peach blight at the turn of the century took away their livelihoods, members of the church moved to Skillman. They began construction of the new church at 189 Hollow Road in 1899 and the construction was completed in 1902.
The church quickly fell into disrepair following its closure in 2005 and was in danger of collapse. In 2012, courtesy of a fundraising effort by The Sourland Planning Council (now Sourland Conservancy) and a grant for materials from The Montgomery Township Landmarks Commission, painting and stabilization of the building was conducted.
Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, Stoutsburg Cemetery Association board members, have long dreamed of creating a museum to highlight the important untold story of African Americans in the Sourland region.
“The story of the African-American experience in the Sourlands and Hopewell Valley has been grossly under represented,” Mills said. “The past contributions of the African-American slaves and free people in this region including military service, beginning with the Revolutionary War up to the present. This was a community of people who thrived against startling odds and their history is rich with compelling stories.”
Two annual fundraising events — the Gospel Brunch in February and the Historic Camp Meeting Revival — help to fund the creation of the museum as well as provide participants with updates, information and entertainment. Donations from members, contractors and volunteers have helped to lay the groundwork for the project.
SSAAM’s mission is to tell the story of the unique culture, experiences and contributions of the African-American community of the Sourland Mountain region. For more information, follow the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum’s Facebook page, or visit their website at ssaamuseum.org.