Public can weigh in on historic church’s future


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Public can weigh in on historic church’s future

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The late Bishop B. Julian Smith of the Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Church, left, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, right, flank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during a civil rights march in Memphis, Tenn., March 28, 1968. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)

The public will get to weigh in on whether the historic sanctuary of West Hunter Street Baptist Church should become part of the National Park Service system.

The park service hosted free public meetings this month (including this last one on Feb. 9)from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the former church’s dining hall) to consider the potential future of the church, once led by civil rights veteran the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy Sr.

The historic sanctuary is located at 775 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Abernathy served as pastor there, while also participating in the Civil Rights Movement. He was a key strategist and confidant to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The study will be developed over the next two years .

The church doubled as a school for nonviolent protest during various initiatives, such as the Voter Education Project and the 1964 Freedom Summer voter registration campaign. Following the congregation’s relocation in 1973 to a neighboring location, the historic sanctuary structure continued to be used as a site for community development and civil rights programs, according to the NPS.

Public comments may be submitted through March 31 online or mailed to:

West Hunter Street Baptist Church Special Resource Study

Attn: Keilah Spann

National Park Service - Southeast Regional Office

100 Alabama St. S.W.

Atlanta, Ga. 30303

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