Greater Shiloh Baptist Church

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Greater Shiloh Baptist Church is a large Baptist congregation located at 2135 Jefferson Avenue Southwest. Michael Wesley is pastor.

Shiloh Baptist Church in 1895

The church was first organized by former 6th Avenue Baptist Church pastor Thomas Walker as Shiloh Baptist Church on May 3, 1891. It occupied the southeast corner of 19th Street South and Avenue G in Southside.

Shiloh Baptist Church in 1902. courtesy BPL Archives

In 1901 the congregation completed a massive new sanctuary capable of holding 3,000 worshippers. The 70-foot by 100-foot building was designed by D. A. Helmich and constructed for $45,000 by Swann & Sons contractors. The light-colored brick for the building was supplied by the brickyard owned by pastor Walker. The interior features deep side galleries and eight massive wood roof trusses.

The newly-built church hosted the 1902 National Baptist Convention. An address by Booker T. Washington on the evening of September 19 draw an overflow crowd that, following the address, was driven to pandemonium by a shout mistaken as a report of fire. Over 100 people were crushed to death in the ensuing stampede. In addition to mourning the dead, the church saw reduced membership and struggled to pay for the remaining $13,000 of its building loan.

After the church site was rezoned for business uses, the congregation relocated five blocks west to the corner of 14th Street where it began constructing two new buildings. The congregation began worshipping in the basement of the new building in 1927 but was unable to complete the building due to the effects of the Great Depression. Renamed "Greater Shiloh" the church finally completed the new sanctuary in 1961. Seven years later an expansion of the Medical Center forced the church to move again, this time to its current home on Jefferson Avenue Southwest.

References

  • Walker, Robert Henry Jr (1902) Trumpet Blast. Washington D. C.: self-published - accessed from Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections (link)

External links