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Letter to City Council: 'Spare Atlanta's Historic Friendship Baptist Church'

Patch welcomes letters to the editor and op-ed pieces from local residents and officials.

Courtesy Molly Read Woo
Courtesy Molly Read Woo
Note: The following is a letter to the Atlanta City Council from frequent Patch contributor and Atlanta resident Molly Read Woo.

Dear Atlanta City Council Members -

As you can see from the attached schedule that was posted on the Georgia World Congress Center site, the "abate / Demo" phase of Friendship Baptist Church is slated to begin 6/2/14 - this Monday.

Please act quickly to help spare Atlanta's Historic Friendship Baptist Church from imminent destruction, so we might have a chance to save this invaluable, irreplaceable asset to our city.

You may already know that Friendship, the oldest black Baptist church in town, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded by former slaves more than 150 years ago, it's known as the "Mother Church" of nine other successful congregations that continue to thrive in and around Atlanta. The church is also the first Atlanta home to our city's outstanding historical black colleges of Spelman and Morehouse and Atlanta University.

Friendship was also the home church of Atlanta's late Mayor Maynard Jackson, Jr., the first African-American to ever be elected mayor of a large Southern U.S. City. Jackson came to Atlanta as a child when his father was called to pastor Friendship, a rare place where black churches and institutes of higher learning merged to create a powerful force in the fight for civil rights in America.

Please note the attached letter from the Atlanta Preservation Center, urging state officials to preserve Friendship Baptist Church.

This historic church building could easily be re-purposed to serve our city well, as a cultural center, a concert hall, and a world landmark destination for both tourists and students of the civil rights history of our nation.

Of course, this invaluable asset of our city will be worthless - even a bane on Atlanta's reputation - if we tear down this historic church without even giving the people of Atlanta and the state a fair chance to weigh in on its fate, and ours. 

At Monday's council meeting, please act to halt to the imminent destruction of Friendship Baptist Church, to give those of us who hope to save this historic building the time we need to do so, even if it means moving the original church building to another location.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Molly Read Woo
(404) 630-7549


Please also note, the state of Georgia appears to have failed to properly advertise and hold an open public hearing on the proposed demolition of Historic Friendship Baptist Church.

On the Westside Community Alliance's Website, you can read about the state hearing, and find a link to an environmental impact report on the proposed demolition of Friendship. Here's a link to the WCA website
http://westsidecommunities.org/friendship-baptist-church-demolition-hearing/

We will seek to challenge the state on what appears to be procedural shortfalls to rush the demolition of Historic Friendship Church in a promotion of the Falcons' interests in state property.

While we know Atlanta officials may have little control over what state officials do, a city resolution to temporarily halt the imminent demolition of Friendship could at least give us time to address these broader issues at the state level.

Thank you for any action you can take to help keep Friendship in our city.


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