*The church has long been a pillar in the Black community, acting as a beacon of hope, a reservoir of information, and a political stepping stool for the voiceless.

And so Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County has committed to preserving the legacy of the church with a guide of African American churches in the Washington D.C. area.

Entitled “Community Cornerstones: A Selection of Historic African American Churches in Montgomery County, Maryland,” details the history of 21 historically African American Montgomery churches. These churches, founded by free slaves, reflect the desire to create a new life after years of being in captivity and repeated violence. While most of the churches are still in use, three churches that are included in the guide are no longer standing.

Peggy Erickson, executive director of Heritage Montgomery, was inspired to create the guide after the tourism alliance filmed an Emmy Award winning video on the Civil War last year.

“This story needs to be told rather quickly because the congregations are vanishing and the people are growing old,” Ericksen told the Washington Post.