Members of a Baptist church in Atlanta gathered for the last time May 25 in a historic building being demolished to make way for a new Atlanta Falcons football stadium.
Friendship Baptist Church, established in 1862 and independently organized as Atlanta’s first autonomous black Baptist congregation after the Civil War in 1866, voted last year to sell its home since 1871 for $19.5 million. The building last renovated in 1998 will be demolished to clear the site for a new $1.3 billion retractable-roof stadium scheduled to open for the 2017 NFL season.
A second congregation displaced by the project, nearby Mount Vernon Baptist Church, is already gone. It was vacated for $14.5 million in March, torn down in April and now meets at Carver College while searching for a permanent home.
Started by 25 former slaves who met in a discarded railroad boxcar, Friendship Baptist became known as the “mother church” of Atlanta for its role in forming nine congregations across the metropolitan area. The congregation with an active membership of about 400 and annual budget of $1.3 million is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA, American Baptist Churches of the South and the Baptist World Alliance and its regional unit, the North American Baptist Fellowship.
SOURCE: Bob Allen
Associated Baptist Press