Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which over its long history has been a spiritual home for many in the city and in the civil rights movement, will observe its 137th anniversary Sunday.
Rabbi Peter Berg, senior rabbi of The Temple, will be the guest speaker at 9 a.m.
“The relationship between Ebenezer and The Temple goes back well over 50 years,” said Berg. He pointed to the strong relationships between the institutions’ leaders — decades ago between Rabbi Jacob Rothschild and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., then Rabbi Alvin Sugarman and the Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Jr., and now himself and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the church’s senior pastor who is also a U.S. senator.
“So we’ve had a pulpit exchange, if you will, that goes back a long time.”
Members of Ebenezer and The Temple will worship together and then celebrate during an outdoor reception immediately following the morning service.
Ebenezer, also sometimes referred to as America’s Freedom Church, was founded in 1886, nine years after the end of Reconstruction with 13 members under the leadership of .the Rev. John A. Parker, according to the church’s website.
Over time the church grew and was led by different pastors, including the Rev. A.D. Williams. and the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.
Martin Luther King Jr. later served a co-pastor of the influential intown church. After his death, the Rev. A.D. King replaced his brother as Ebenezer’s second co-pastor.
The church, with its strong outreach ministry, has a long history of supporting voting and civil rights and advocating for better housing and economic opportunities.
The Rev. John Vaughn became executive pastor three years ago.
He already knew of Ebenezer’s reputation in social justice and community engagement.
The church, which has 6,000 members, will “continue to be a place that embraces individual growth and social transformation.”
About the Author