Books By George McNeish.
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Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project
A new play written and directed by Jason Rip
This production was very successful. Opening night was sold out and attendance was high for all performances. Over 300 people saw the show. All proceeds went to the Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project.
A book including the short story, "Singing in the Chapel" by George McNeish and the play "My Name is Margaret Harman" by Jason Rip sold very well. It is available on line from Amazon and at locations in London. Click here for details.
The Open House on Friday March 27 and Saturday March 28, 2015 was a huge success. The flow of people throughout the two days was steady but not overwhelming. The evening programs were attended but comfortable numbers. We had prepared for many more as we anticipated the possibility of being overwhelmed, but divine providence prevailed and we easily accomodated those who showed up
The evening programs went without a hitch. I had worried about the program dragging out too long with three speakers each night, but the speeches were short and potent. The Friday evening was shorter than expected and Saturday program ran a comfortable 1 1/2 hours.
On the Friday evening the Mayor of London, spoke briefly about the City's involvement and although he had other commitments, he remained to hear the other two speeches. He laughed when Councillor Tanya Park was mistakenly introduced as the mayor of ward 13. Park's speech was well thought out and went more in depth into what the fugitive slave chapel means to the city in general and to her ward in particular.
When MP Irene Mathyssen Spoke she highlighted the important developments in a few minutes. Commenting on "if the walls could speak" as presented on the back page of the printed program, she indicated the importance of carefully investigating the building itself to gain information about those who built it. Ms. Mathyssen has been a regular at FSCPP events and her comments are alway highly anticipated and warmly received.
On the Saturday evening we were privileged to hear from MP Susan Truppe. She highlighted to role of women in the underground rail road and the importance remembering the past to advance the rights of women today.
Next Councillor Harold Usher, another friend of the FSCPP, talked of the major importance of the project and of the importance to the city of London.
City Heritage Planner, Don Menard, highlighted the steps the city has taken to see the project through. He mentioned the names of many key players that were essential to the success of the project.
Paul Fleming was responsible for the first musical interlude each evening and was met with a standing ovation after his first performance. The second music break each evening featured the voice of Delvis. Although she had not had a lot of experience signing solos, she thrilled us with original compositions about the Slave chapel and was also met with a standing ovation.
Bringing it HomeDVD now available
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$5.00 goes to the Fugitive Slave Chapel fund.
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See preview on our new video page
With a picture on the front page and a leading story in the local news section of the London Free Press, the 2 cents worth campaign was officially launched on November 7, 2013.
In 1848, when the chapel was built, 2 cents represented an unskilled labourer's earnings for 15 minutes of work. A typical wage was one dollar for a 12 hour day. At today's minimum wage a labourer would earn about $2.50 in the same 15 minutes. The two cents worth campaign is to invite 18,000 people to give us there 2 cents worth, or what they earned in 15 minutes at their occupation. Of course any amount is welcome.
When we started this campaign we had already raised more than $20,000 and needed about another $45,000 to meet our first phase goal of $65,000. As of May, 2014, we have raised over $72,000 exceeding our Stage one goal and starting on the next phase which will go towards much needed repairs and restoration of the building. The support of the public, with about 600 individual donors, is overwhelming, but still short of the 18,000 that was the goal of the campaign, so we will continue to give the public an opportunity to participate to meet the needs of the next phases of of fund-raising efforts.
Currently our project is being held up due to paperwork, but as soon as the permits are in place, construction will begin. There is still some legal issues to deal with and we are working on getting those resolved as soon as possible.
We will not be able to determine the costs of renovations until we have possession of the building, but they are expected to be extensive. Aside from renovations we need sufficient office space to administer the needs of the Fugitive Slave Chapel and the Historic Beth Emanuel Church which will be its neighbour. It is hoped that both buildings can be restored to a point were they will accurately reflect their histories and both buildings could be opened to tourist and those researching the the religious history of the eras they represent.
In order to make the best use out of the historic buildings we need separate research facilities and office space. Also Beth Emanuel Church needs facilities for the current programs they are running and other programs they would like to initiate in the future. As an example, one current program is the Thursday evening meal that has seen up to 200 people come for a meal on a single evening. The current dining space can seat 40 people at a time. In conjunction with this, the church also gives away donated clothing on the same evening. The pews of the sanctuary are all draped with clothing every Thursday as there is no other place to accommodate this. These programs are not compatible with having valuable artefacts on display for logical reasons, so in order to keep the buildings open to those who wish to view their history, we would need other facilities to accommodate the programs of the church.
Rev. Dr. Delta McNeish, pastor of Beth Emanuel Church has complete confidence that our Heavenly Father will provide for the needs of the programs run by the church. So far food, clothing and money have come unsolicited to meet the needs of the programs. The biggest challenge has bee to find space to store the donated items. Sometimes the volunteer staff will panic when they realize that there is no food to serve the Thursday evening crowd, but Pastor Delta reminds them to have faith and food or money will show up just in time to meet the need.
Thus our attitude is that God will provide the means to do His Will. Our intention in informing the public about our project is to give them an opportunity to participate in this great opportunity. God has and will continue to move the hearts of His loved ones to participate in whatever capacity He has chosen for them. We find he often sends non believers to us and atheist, as well as believers in all faiths, have contributed to our project. We have a grand vision for this project but God will have to show us just how grand He wants it to be. We are sure that, at the completion of this project, we will have an edifice that will show us how great our God is.
With complete victory assured, we extend this invitation to allow the public to share with us in our vision. We do not wish to beg or try in any way to entice people to give unless they are completely happy to do so.
We wish to thank Chip Martin of the London Free Press for the great coverage of our campaign he has authored. It has helped to get the campaign started with a big bang. We have recently been informed that Mr. Martin has retired and we extend our best wishes and our pray that he will find great happiness in all he does.
To donate to to our project, go to our donation page. To participate in the programs of Beth Emanuel Church, you may donate on line through their Web site. You may also donate to either this project or Beth Emanuel's programs by mail. Please make your cheque payable to Beth Emanuel Church and indicate on the memo line which fund you are contributing to. You may mail your cheque to
Beth Emanuel BME Church
430 Grey St,
Non earmarked funds will go to the Church to be used were most needed.
© 2013 George McNeish
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