The Georgia Historical Society will hold a dedication for a new historical marker: Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The dedication will take place on Sunday, April 7, 2024, at 9:00 a.m. at Big Bethel A.M.E Church, 220 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303. The event is open to the public. Please note, parking is available in the parking lot behind the church, off Jesse Hill Drive.
The marker reads:
Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is the oldest African-American congregation in Atlanta. Organized by enslaved congregants of Union Church in 1847, the church joined the AME denomination in 1866. As a community center, Big Bethel hosted political gatherings, benevolent societies, and housed Gate City School, a public school for African Americans. Morris Brown College was founded at Big Bethel. Architect John Anderson Lankford and builder Alexander Hamilton constructed the existing building following a 1923 fire. To help pay for construction, members wrote and produced Heaven Bound, a religious folk drama that has been performed annually since 1930. The play’s popularity introduced Black theater to White audiences nationwide and sustained the church through the Great Depression. Big Bethel is a landmark in Atlanta’s “Sweet Auburn” district, recognized by the steeple’s “Jesus Saves” sign.
Erected by the Georgia Historical Society and Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church