5 Historic Black churches in Alabama receive grants from National Trust

Lee Sentell 13
Historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. (Matthew Niblett/ Bham Now)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has announced their initiative to distribute grants to preserve several historic Black churches across the country. Five out of the 35 churches are located in Alabama.

Here’s the list of our state’s grantees:

Alabama’s grantees

  • 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL
  • Old Ship African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Montgomery, AL
  • First Missionary Baptist Church in Hayneville, AL
  • Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Notasulga, AL
  • Old Sardis Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL

About the Action Fund

Members of the congregation at First Missionary Baptist Church in Hayneville, AL. (First Missionary Baptist Church Hayneville Alabama on Facebook)

Because many culturally significant sites integral to black history have either disappeared or fallen into disrepair, the National Trust for the Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund plans to find solutions to challenges like deferred maintenance, insufficient funds and threats of demolition.

Funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., the program’s goal is to help historic black churches protect their cultural legacies and help them sustain themselves in the future.

Historic significance

One of the grantees located in Montgomery, AL. (Old Ship AME Zion Church on Facebook)

According to Pew Research Center, around three-quarters of Black adults say predominantly Black churches have helped advance the fight for racial equality.

During the Civil Rights movement, churches played a prominent role in Black history by providing a place for community and leadership, hosting meetings, rallies and marches.

One of these churches, Birmingham’s historic 16th Street Baptist Church, was recently highlighted in The New York Times’ list of 8 places in the U.S. that illuminate Black history.

“From one room praise houses to unprecedented metropolitan mega churches, Black churches since slavery times have been the heart and soul of the African American community,” Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., national advisory councilmember for the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, said in a recent press release, “So, it is inspiring to see the Action Fund’s commitment to preserving their history and their physical structures. After all, these are our sacred sites, which our ancestors built from the ground up, and we must do everything we can to ensure their survival. Preserving these structures is a visible way of preserving a crucial chapter of Black History.”

For a full list of grantees, visit https://savingplaces.org/black-churches.

For more stories like this delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our FREE newsletter.

Grace Howard
Grace Howard
Articles: 54