BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Sunday was a momentous day for an historic Birmingham church and civil rights landmark. The 16th Street Baptist Church celebrated its 140th anniversary.
Its head pastor, Rev. Arthur Price, says the church was originally founded by former slaves ten years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Former slaves wanted a church to have for their own and they formed the First Baptist Church for Colored Folk, moved here in the 1880′s, renamed it the 16th Street Baptist Church and this church has been through Reconstruction, Jim Crow, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, church bombings, Brown versus the Board of Education- so much this church has been through and this church has stayed strong,” said Rev. Arthur Price.
“Through many dangers toils and snares we have already come and we can testify that it was grace that brought us safe this far and grace is going to lead us on,” said Rev. Arthur Price.
It’s one of the most famous churches in America after surviving one of the most infamous attacks of the Civil Rights Era, the 1963 bombing that killed four little girls.
On the 140th Anniversary of the church, the congregation is praying for the people of Boston.
“We pray for our brothers and sisters in Boston who were bombed Oh God. And God this community knows a thing or two about a bombing,” said Rev. Price.
“Of course our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boston community. If any community understands the significance of, of bombings, it would be the Birmingham community. If any church understands how a bomb can change the character and culture of one’s community it would be 16th Street Baptist Church,” said Rev. Price.
Much like the bombing in Birmingham emboldened people to stand up for equal rights in America, Reverend Price says the attacks in Boston will make our country that much stronger.
“We as a nation always come together when we feel atrocities and injustice hits us the wrong way. I think this will just galvanize our country,” said Rev. Price.
As for what the future holds at 16th Street, church member Ken King says it’s just another day of worship.
“We are very proud of the history of this church and at the same time we know that this is more than just a, it’s not a museum. It’s not a just some place for people to come and tour, but it’s a real life house of worship where every single Sunday we come together, we fellowship, and we praise the lord,” said King.