Lynchburg, Virginia’s Oldest Black Church Marked 175th Easter Service

In downtown Lynchburg, under a towering copper-clad spire, the city’s oldest African-American congregation welcomed Easter morning with a hearty breakfast and passionate prayer.

Clad in the pastel colors of spring, members of Court Street Baptist Church commemorated Jesus Christ’s resurrection for the 175th time as an independent congregation — a historic milestone for a church that has served as the center of Lynchburg’s black community since before the Civil War.

One hundred seventy-five years “is a great testament to the longevity and the spirit of the people who desire to worship in this particular building,” said the Rev. Rodney Forrest, the church’s pastor for the past twelve years. “I think it’s a real testament to God’s will and God’s blessing upon this congregation.”

Court Street was founded in 1843 after church leaders at the largely white First Baptist Church decided to split black churchgoers into a separate congregation. Last September, Court Street celebrated the 175th anniversary of its founding.

Today, the iconic church is known as the “mother church” of the city’s black Baptist congregations — most of which can trace their history to Court Street.

In his Easter sermon, Forrest spoke of the power of Christ’s resurrection and the need to spread “the good news.”

“If there ever was a time that we ought to be telling folks about Jesus, I believe that that time is right now,” Forrest said from the pulpit, standing before freshly bloomed Easter lilies.

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Source: News & Advance

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