There's new hope for the North Buxton Community Church in Chatham-Kent.

The Sunday morning service was initially expected to be the last time members of the small congregation would gather inside the church.

But lawyer Steven Pickard is offering his legal services free of charge to prevent the Toronto-based British Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada from taking use of the building away from the parish.

The church was built in 1867 by runaway slaves who escaped through the Underground Railroad, and found freedom in the area.

The local group would also have to hand over control of the cemetery next to the church.

The North Buxton church became independent from the BME Church of Canada in 2003, but the Toronto-based organization maintained ownership of the property.

The lawyer for the BMEC has told CTV News the property would be utilized as a retreat once the local community has vacated the premises.