A plea to restore Belltown church

April 15, 2022

We must still work to keep our American values active, however, lest they be ignored.

Delaware has a unique and proud history of leadership in achieving our American dream; a powerhouse of activism.

I drive frequently through a small enclave of land that is remarkable in this endeavor; it’s called Belltown.

Belltown was founded around 1840, before the Civil War, by a remarkable gentleman named Jacob Bell. History has him described as a “free colored man.” I do not know how he obtained this area, but I do know he built a church and a school and that descendants of his, and those who settled early on, remain to this day. I know this because I spent many hours working in the current church building, the fourth structure dedicated for community worship and fellowship.

This building ceased to be a commissioned church about eight years back, although the structure has been rededicated as a place for healing and reverence to the God our nation acclaimed as protector and king by a clergyman involved with the secular purchaser.

This historic building is empty now except for some storage items. It still proudly exhibits stained glass windows holding the history of the area and many icons of worship.

People who stopped by as I worked told me remarkable stories about those who worshiped in the church. People who were baptized, married, and family members whose loved ones were sent to their reward. They told me the most heartfelt renditions of their personal connection to this old church and who wanted a few minutes to pray there; persons who wondered why it was closed to them. Persons who wanted access still.

So I bring this plea for access for the neighborhood worshippers, for new immigrants living near, for the physically and spiritually needy and lonely.

Please help to reopen that special church. Please reactivate our American and Delawarean thrust to love and remember and to provide a sanctuary for all who wish it.

Rhona Prescott
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