Sixth Avenue Baptist Church
Sixth Avenue Baptist Church is a Baptist church located at 1101 Martin Luther King, Jr Drive in Southwest Birmingham. With over 5,000 members it is the largest black church in the city. The current pastor, Al Sutton, took over the pulpit in 2000, following a four-decade period when John Porter was leader of the congregation.
The congregation was founded in Southside on June 18, 1881 as the Second Colored Baptist Church largely due to the efforts of M. G. Kendrick. Its first building was constructed at at 16th Street and 6th Avenue South. (The First Colored Baptist Church, on the north side, later became 16th Street Baptist Church.) It hosted the 23rd session of the Colored Baptist Convention of Alabama in November 1890.
The original frame building was replaced with a masonry edifice designed by noted African-American architect Wallace Rayfield in 1910. The blocky massing of the building, with thick the main floor raised over a basement hall and accessed by broad central stairs flanked by square towers, was characteristic of Rayfield's style. The relatively plain exterior with large expanses of brick over a rusticated base was also typical. The elaborate cupola over the center of the church was refined from his original rendering and employed a mansard roof with small gables on each face. A bell tower was located to the rear of the building, where a 2-story wing was constructed with room for Sunday School classes. The building was reported to have been constructed for $35,000. Additional education space was added in a separate building adjoining to the church in 1928.
In 1968 the church sold its property in the emerging Medical Center and moved to a new building, completed in 1970 on Montevallo Road (Elyton). The street was renamed for Martin Luther King, Jr in the 1980s.
A new Wicks pipe organ (Opus 6214) was installed at the church in 1991.
The church sponsors the 6th Avenue Baptist Child Development Center preschool program.
- Silas Jones, 1881–1882
- Thomas Walker, 1882–1883
- S. M. Reeves, 1883
- Thomas Walker, 1883–1891
- J. White, 1891–1895
- J. Q. A. Wilhite, 1895–
- John Goodgame, 1918–1937
- John Goodgame, Jr, 1937–1962
- John Porter, 1962–2000
- Al Sutton, 2000–2010
- John Cantelow, 2011–
- Boothe, Charles Octavius (1895) Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama: Their Leaders and Their Work Birmingham: Alabama Publishing Co. Documenting the American South (2001) University of North Carolina Library
- Turner, John T. and Nathan Hale Turner, Jr (2004) Keep Looking Up: The History of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, 1881-2001.
- "From early days blacks bound to the church." (December 19, 1971) Birmingham News
- Garrison, Greg (November 4, 2004) "He keeps looking up: Porter, Turner write history of largest black church in Birmingham." Birmingham News
- Resolution Commending the 125th Anniversary of the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church of Birmingham HB388, sponsored by Sonny Perdue and read on March 2, 2006
- Sixth Avenue Baptist Church website