COLUMBUS, GA. (WRBL) — It was a historic morning for a historic African American church that has been one of the cornerstones of South Columbus.
The ground was ceremoniously broken for a new Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church.
The old church that hugs the interstate was targeted in the name of progress, but it was faith that led the Mt. Pilgrim congregation to make a difficult decision.
“To God be the glory,” Mt. Pilgrim Pastor Dr. David Stallion said just before he and church leaders tossed shovels full of dirt into the air.
And with that, 137 years of spiritual history will be moving from one southside Columbus home to a new church home just off Farr Road.
And as Mt. Pilgrim is prepared to make the move to make way for a new interchange at I-185 and Cusseta Stallion says the new foundation is a firm one.
“This is the foundation for a new era, a new season in the life of Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church. It is the start of what we are hoping to be a new development in the community where we can continue to do what we have been doing for 137 years – which is be a presence in Columbus, Ga.,” Stallion said.
This day was two decades in the making. And it wasn’t easy says Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley. The city and state negoiated with the church to sell the Old Cusseta Road property.
“More than 20 years ago, this historic black church said, ‘No.’ And they meant it,” Hugley said.
When Pastor Stallion took over, talks started again with the city and the Georgia Department of Transportation, looking for a way to open up Cusseta Road to the interstate.
“We have all developed a partnership where we have agreed on the greater cause, and that is to bring about development in this community,” Stallion said.
What happened Monday morning on what was being called “holy ground” was determined a long, long time ago.
“This is the day the Lord has made, and as the Bible says, we will rejoice and be glad in it,” Stallion said. “Because it’s the day he has decided within his own wisdom from the beginning of time. Now, we are here and we are thankful for it.”
Construction will take about a year, with steel being put in place early next month. Stallion says that this time next year – the Christmas season – Mt. Pilgrim hopes to be worshipping in the new sanctuary.
State, city and local religious leaders participated in the groundbreaking at 375 Farr Road. Since 18-84, Mt. Pilgram has been meeting at what is now 4400 Old Cusseta Road.