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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Should Friendship Baptist Church move for Falcons?

Friendship delegates to National Baptist Convention, 1946
The church is more than the property where members meet and serve mankind; it is the inspiration for a whole community built on sacred ground. If its members decide to relocate for a new Falcons stadium, Friendship Baptist Church needs to be richly compensated for the prime real estate it has fought so hard to acquire with a lot of blood, sweat, and prayers.

History is important, but will it take the backseat to the city's need for a new football stadium? Should the congregants of the 151-year old church take the money and build elsewhere or stand their ground?

Friendship Baptist Church is part of Atlanta's historical past and like the city, its architectural transformation has advanced over time. Members started out worshiping in the First Baptist Church of Atlanta in 1862 which has since been relocated. Then members consequently met and prayed in a house, moved to a railroad boxcar, and began construction of the present facility in 1871. That was progress.

The "roots and fruit" of Friendship's history were recorded in it's 85th Anniversary Booklet. The place where the Friendship boxcar first rested became Atlanta University.  Morehouse College students once met in the original church. Spelman students studied in the basement. Friendship has provided a proving ground for educated blacks.

An old church anniversary program stressed things the church stood for 66 years ago which continue today:  "The deep spiritual experiences of the centuries and of our fathers have coined a treasure of the spirit which we spend for the job and inspiration, feeling no need for the husks of the world and its dives as we kneel before God." The church was involved in mentoring to youth, voting rights, medical assistance, as well as religious counseling. That is Friendship's past and a launch pad for the future.

It's somewhat ironic that the church's 1946 statement of purpose may be antithetical to building a sports stadium on hallowed ground. "We hold that the house of God is no place for Jazz and Circus..."

Dr. Maynard Holbrook Jackson, father of Atlanta's late mayor, served as the church's third minister between 1945 and 1953. Rev. and Mrs. Jackson with Maynard, Jr., Carol Ann, Jeanne Odalie and Constance Elaine.
The church is not the building, but the building is a landmark. It seems that the building, however, is collateral damage when it comes to sports progress.  Would the city every consider moving the Georgia State Capitol Building instead??? 
Ms. Carrie Taylor, clerk for 28 yrs.

I am not a member, only an onlooker, but my first reaction is to say pay the church a premium for having to move and dedicate a historic zone marking the church's contributions in a special place inside the new dome. Guarantee the ministry of faith and education continues in a more glorious location. Then, I have to think about why the land was consecrated and what that means.

Membership photo, 1946

©2013 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.   


  1. Mr. Johnson says... I wonder if the stadium were to want to locate where the Greek church is, what the reaction would be...especially after the consecration and designation of “Holy Ground.”

  2. No! Friendship is one of the "flagship" churches of Atlanta's black middle class. This church is a landmark.


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