Demolition begins at Friendship Baptist Church

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ATLANTA - After weeks of clearing asbestos from inside the sanctuary, crews have begun tearing down historic Friendship Baptist Church to make way for the new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

Church members stopped by the demolition site Monday to try and get a piece of history.

For a few church members, it was a day of mixed emotions.

“What it took years and years and years to build, I’ve watched torn down in a matter of hours,” said interim pastor Emmanuel McCall.

Thousands of pounds of machinery spent the day Monday knocking down decades of history. Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta’s oldest African-American Baptist church, fell down quickly has the demolition began just after 8 a.m.

“It produced people that were extraordinary. And it not only changed Atlanta, it changed the country,” state Sen. Vincent Fort said.

Before a new $1 billion new Falcons stadium can be built, the plan calls for two historic churches to be torn down.

Friendship Baptist was sold for $19.5 million.

“We’re planning very well for the future so this community will see another Friendship. Bigger, stronger, better,” McCall said.

Some church members took home bricks from the church’s foundation Monday.

“It’s a very sad day. There were many people who were raised in this church, baptized,” McCall said.

The church has been standing since 1879. The streets around the church will be re-routed during the demolition.

Since June, Friendship has been holding services on the Morehouse College campus, its new home until the church rebuilds in the Vine City community.