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Sula Burr arrived early for the final service of Friendship Baptist Church at its current location in Atlanta. Credit Kevin Liles for The New York Times

Proud of the racial harmony achieved in turbulent times, Atlanta has long promoted itself as the city too busy to hate. But it is also known for showing little love toward historical and significant old buildings — the city too busy to remember — with no hesitation to tear them down.

So it was perhaps not surprising that Friendship Baptist, the city’s oldest African-American Baptist church, founded by former slaves with help from whites and still thriving, found itself in the path of bulldozers that will raze the Georgia Dome as its replacement rises next door. The church is to be taken down, as early as Monday, 152 years after it was established.

Friendship, one of two churches whose multimillion dollar relocation/reconstruction tab will be covered by the city, is steeped in history. Two historically black colleges, Morehouse and Spelman, held classes in its basement, Morehouse moving into the church from Augusta in 1879 and Spelman starting there two years later. Trained musicians led the flock in song, with an emphasis on preserving old Negro spirituals. Nine other houses of prayer spun off Friendship, earning it the appellation “mother church.

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Longtime Members of Friendship Baptist Church In Atlanta Say Goodbye To Church  was originally published on praisecleveland.com

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