Credit: Renderings by Antunovich Associates

Latisha Gasaway said she felt emptiness and loss when she looked at the water in the basement of her church three years ago. 

It was July 2019 and a flash flood significantly damaged the building of the Scotland AME Zion Church in Potomac. Members of the church’s congregation were forced to worship elsewhere after county officials deemed the building unsafe, according to a press release. 

Gasaway’s family members contributed to building the church by hand in 1924. It’s one of Montgomery County’s oldest and most historic Black churches, according to a press release.

Scotland AME Zion Church members haven’t been to the church since the summer of 2019, Gasaway said Friday. 

Religious, community and civic leaders will gather on Saturday to celebrate the groundbreaking, which includes the restoration of the original church building and the construction of a new adjacent building.

“It’s just a day of praise,” Gasaway said. “I just want to dance. I’m very excited about what’s taking place.”

The groundbreaking highlights a three-year campaign called the 2nd Century Project to acknowledge the church’s historic significance and gather the financial and social resources to prevent similar disasters from happening at the church in the future, Gasaway said. The building is listed on the Maryland Registry of Historic Sites.

Following the flooding, discussions were held about finding a new location or joining an existing church elsewhere in the county, according to the press release. However, relocation meant the end of the congregation and historical ties — Black children were taught their faith and learned to read and write during school segregation there, the release said. 

Church families vowed to rebuild the church at its original site rather than relocate. State and local civic, religious and business leaders have offered financial support for the church.

Community leaders expected to attend Saturday’s event include Bishop W. Darin Moore of  African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich; Sarah Rogers of Heritage Montgomery; Montgomery County Council Member Andrew Friedson who represents District 1; design architect Desmond Grimball; Scotland Trustees Board chair Alan Heard; state Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo from District 15; and Rev. Dr. Evalina Huggins, pastor of Scotland AME Zion Church.