Historic Black church in Philadelphia gets funding boost
A centuries-old local Black church has scored a grant to help preserve its historic building.
Why it matters: Some Black churches in Philly have faced mounting fiscal challenges in recent years and are struggling to remain open.
Driving the news: Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was awarded $90,000 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation last week.
- The funding will help renovate the 134-year-old building's original stained glass windows, which were made in Germany.
Yes, but: Church leaders still have to raise about $23,000 more to pay the full costs.
The big picture: The preservation group doled out $4 million in grants to 31 historic Black churches across the U.S., which included the funding to Mother Bethel.
- Yardley AME Church is the only other Pennsylvania house of worship to receive funding, per the preservation organization's website.
- Developers have demolished some to make way for apartments or repurposed the structures.
Flashback: Richard Allen, a former enslaved person, founded Mother Bethel in 1793 as the first AME church in the U.S.
- The granite, three-story church is a National Historic Landmark.
Of note: The church's site at S 6th and Lombard streets is the nation's oldest piece of land continuously owned by Black Americans.
Details: Crews will repair or replace the frames around approximately 40 stained-glass windows throughout the church, including the large arched windows facing S 6th Street.
- The project will make the church more energy efficient.
What they're saying: Mark Kelly Tyler, senior pastor at Philly's Mother Bethel, tells Axios the church wouldn't have been able to pay for repairs without the grant.
- "Many of these historic churches have been more than about simply being a congregation," Tyler says, noting Mother Bethel remains a leading advocate for social justice issues.
What's next: Renovations are expected to begin this spring.
- You can submit donations via the church's website.
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