• Church celebrates anniversary amid worries of moving for stadium

    By: Rachel Stockman

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Decision day is looming for a historic church that may have to move to make room for a new Falcons stadium.

    The 450-member congregation of Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta and its trustees will ultimately decide to accept an offer of millions, or stay put in their Mitchell Street location. The church is the oldest black Baptist church in Atlanta. The plan is to move the church to make room for a repositioned Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

    On Sunday, members celebrated their 151st anniversary with a special service.

    "It something that everybody knows about and it's something that we are not worried about right now," explained Lloyd Hawk, chairman of the church Board of Trustees.

    But Channel 2's Rachel Stockman spoke to some members outside of the church, who did seem concerned about the upcoming decision.

    "It would be hard to move 151 years in one corner and then just get up and move. It will be different, but we will see," said church member Jasmine Frear, who also attends Spelman College, which was founded years ago in Friendship's basement.

    Sisters Rose Nichols and Josephine White have been attending the church for more than 10 years.

    "(It's) very disappointing and I hope they can avoid it," said Nichols. "Money doesn't do everything and sometimes you've got to consider other things."

    "I would just hate for us to move," White said.

    "This is a once-in-a-lifetime decision for the church that will impact the church for the next 150 years," Hawk said.

    He said his congregation will seriously consider moving if the right offer is made.

    "There is nothing wrong with moving. Move is change, change is positive and it's all for the better. I would go with the consensus. I have no problem with whatever is in the best interests of the church and the community," said church member Gary Cassis.

    Friendship Baptist Church and Mt. Vernon Baptist Church across the street both have to agree to sell before August 1 or the new stadium will go on the site north of the existing dome.


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