“Lifting up the Matchless Name of Jesus Christ!”


On December 19, 1878, the Zion Wesley African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church was established by a group of free African Americans, who lived in the Mount Zion neighborhood of Olney Maryland. The founders of Zion Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church, (which was renamed Oak Grove African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church on January 16, 1968), had all been freed prior to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1893.  These former slaves earned, bought their freedom, or had been freed by the predominantly Quaker residents of the area by 1860.  They were among the first African Americans to be formally educated and bequeathed a rich heritage of Christian and family values to their descendants.

The land for building Oak Grove was donated by friends and neighbors living on and around Zion Road.  Mr. Green Howard loaned the small group of dedicated, loyal, and determined church members the money, without interest, for the construction of the building.  The members of Oak Grove, many of whom were related by blood or marriage, established the church not only as a center of religious observance but also as a center of community life.  For example, one of the senior members (Mrs. Marie Russell, now deceased) recalled that Mrs. Lydia Bowen, an early church member, visited the members of the community, on foot, sharing companionship, a cup of tea, a piece of bread, and Christian fellowship.  Another faithful member, Mrs. Jane Swailes was always there providing a helpful hand and preparing delicious cakes and meals for everyone.

The church proceeded to be organized into a viable and productive organization.  Under the pastorate of Rev. J. Oliver Hart, Mr. William Chase was appointed a trustee and Mrs. Henry Gassaway was appointed a steward.

When Mr. Chase, Mr. Gassaway and the other dedicated individuals passed away, their wives¸ Mrs. Katherine Chase and Mrs. Willa Gassaway and other family members took on the responsibilities of the church.  Mrs. Victoria Selby, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gassaway and her family continued to carry on with love and devotion, the work in the church that the others had started.  Over the years, the congregation established traditions, comforted and supported each other in Christian love and fellowship.

Tragedy occurred for the congregation in 1964.  The original church was completely destroyed by fire.  The congregation under the leadership of Rev. Frank J. Randall held their services at the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church for the continuance of the conference year.  Rev. Randall appointed Mrs. Elenora Riggs as church clerk (granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Chase and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Russell.  She continues in this position and has served in other leadership roles including Chairperson of the Steering Committee for the October 14, 1990 Mortgage Burning Ceremony.  On May 29, 1965, under the pastorate of Rev. Walter E. Shawler, the church started holding their services at the home of John and Elenora Riggs.  Mr. George Howard was appointed Chairman of the Trustee Board.


The church moved to the home of Mrs. Willa Gassaway in 1969 and services were held there until the previous church was constructed.  Mrs. Willa Ann Howard and Mrs. Beulah Dutton-Jones (daughters or Mrs. Victoria Selby and granddaughters of Mrs. Willa Gassaway) grew up in the church and have continually worked with love and dedication in many capacities in the church.  The Oak Grove congregation believed that the rebuilding of the church and the continuance of God’s work could be accomplished with God’s help.  During the next several years, plans were made for erecting a church building.  Mr. Leroy L. Woodard, Structural Engineer, drafted blue prints for the new building.  

On June 3, 1973, Rev. French W. Myers, Jr., was appointed pastor of the Oak Grove.  Rev. Myers and his lovely wife, Mrs. Stella Myers provided leadership and support, love and encouragement for the congregation.  Although two basic family trees have been traced, other families in the church have played significant roles in the forming of the congregation of Oak Grove.

Finally, in 1975, the construction of the church got underway.  Mr. Woodard not only supervised the construction of the church, but also labored along with other church members that donated their time and effort toward this project.  They struggled through mishaps and stormy weather, but on September 11, 1977, they had Opening Day.  The cornerstone and dedication ceremonies were held November 12, 1978 for the new church building.

During the pastorate of Rev. Myers, Rev. Pearl Selby joined the church family and became the assistant pastor.  Rev. Selby taught the church’s bible class for many years and started the Thanksgiving Basket project for needy families in the area.

On June 5, 1988, Rev. Cyril Oswald Eastman, Jr., was appointed pastor of Oak Grove.  With Rev. Pearl Selby working constantly and diligently with Rev. Eastman, the church increased in membership, the Sunday Church School was rekindled and a Young Adult Choir was started.  Rev. Eastman began to reorganize the church with the goal in mind to liquidate the existing mortgage.  Thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the mortgage was liquidated on May 8, 1990.

On September 9, 1990, Rev. Pearl J. Selby was appointed interim pastor of Oak Grove.  In June 1991, she was appointed pastor of the church.  Under the pastorate of Rev. Selby, the church continued to grow and flourish.  On October 3, 1993, the church held a ground breaking service for their proposed educational annex.  The extension to the existing building will include multi-purpose rooms that will be used for Sunday school classes, meetings and conferences, and also new restrooms and a kitchen.  In the mist of this project, the congregation voiced concern about the condition of the existing church furniture.  The Young Adult Choir of Oak Grove had longed envisioned the purchase of new pews for the church.  Rev. Selby spearheaded a project that resulted in the entire refurbishing of the main sanctuary.  This project embraced the vision of new pews, pulpit furniture, new carpet and repainting of the sanctuary.  Dedication services were held on Sunday, February 26, 1995.  New robes were also dedicated that day for one of the newest choirs in the church, Perfect Praise, five young ladies singing to the glory of God.

The Oak Grove membership with the support of its pastors, friends, presiding elders and Episcopal leadership, has worked diligently to continue the work of God in their corner of the world.  The members have worked hard to maintain and enhance the building, but the congregation believes that the work of Jesus Christ includes more than the rebuilding of an edifice. The Oak Grove membership has been actively involved in opening its doors and inviting all who would like to join in worship.  In addition, the church had several outreach programs in place and consistently provided for those in need in the community.

With the help of God, the membership of Oak Grove African Methodist Episcopal Zion church pledged to continue to do God’s will and to praise God’s Holy Name.


Rev. Windear
Rev. Brooks
Rev. J. Oliver Hart
Rev. Nathaniel Stevenson
Rev. Plummer
Rev. Howard Diggs


Rev. Frank J. Randall


Rev. Walter E. Shawler

5/30/65 – 5/73

Rev. French W. Myers, Jr.

6/3/73 – 5/22/88

Rev. O. Cyril Eastman

6/5/88 – 9/2/90

Rev. Pearl J. Selby

9/90 – June 2012

Rev. Dr. William Anderson (retired)

June 2012 – May 2013

Rev. Dr. Kenel Stevenson

May 2013 – May 2018

Rev. Joshua Logan

June 2018 to present

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