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"All week long, you could be a slave, but on Sunday morning, you were free," Carter said.

The group appointed three men as trustees - Edward Harris, Abraham Barton and George Boyd.

They were a talented group, having worked in farming and some having their own construction businesses. The congregation stayed together and worshipped at Small Memorial AME Zion in York. The water damage was extensive, and black mold had spread from the basement into the walls of the sanctuary. A year ago, Pastor Carter was assigned to the church.

Carter, a Navy veteran who survived the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000, rallied the congregation around the motto, "Let's build something together." The church was rededicated in October.

The church had a preacher assigned to it from Baltimore, and on Sundays, parishioners would travel by horse and buggy to pick him up in Muddy Creek Forks.

When the Civil War broke out, according to church member Steve Doweary, who has compiled a history of the church, many of the young men in the congregation enlisted in the Union Army.

Wiley didn't think his church was treating its African-American parishioners in a very Christian-like manner.

It looks like a country church from a Norman Rockwell painting. And a large reason that Carter felt chills as he walked through the cemetery on a cold, overcast morning.

More than 200 people packed into the sanctuary for the service. Many of the families who trace their roots to the founding of the church still attend services there, even though many no longer live in southern York County and have to drive half an hour or more to get to church.

They are committed to their church, and to the history, the history of their families, that it represents.

They were interested in establishing a congregation of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, first established in 1794 in New York.

The church had a history of fighting for social justice, counting among its members Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.

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The church became known as the Freedom Church for its early gestation of the abolition movement.

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