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Friendship Baptist Church celebrated its new building last weekend with a ribbon cutting Saturday and walk of faith on Sunday.

The 153-year-old historic church broke ground on its new edifice in October 2015 a year and a half after vacating its longtime home for the construction of the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium. Founded by freed slaves and the birthplace of Spelman College, its new 44,000-square-foot home is at 80 Walnut St. S.W., just blocks away from the building the congregation vacated in spring 2014.

Friendship Baptist Church Sr. Pastor Rev. Dr. Richard W. Wills, Sr. said the church in its new home after being a “church with no walls” for three years, is looking forward to “maintaining the character and culture “of Friendship.

“We have a commitment to excellence,” Wills said. “A commitment to being our best selves and understanding that we as a people are wonderfully made and ready to continue to serve our community.”

Friendship’s role in black education has been unique in that Morehouse College, upon moving to Atlanta from Augusta, Ga., in 1879, set up classes in Friendship Baptist Church. Spelman College had its beginning in the basement of the previous church site in 1881, and close ties between these institutions continue.

The city of Atlanta and the Falcons bought the church in 2013 for $19.5 million as part of a plan to construct the retractable-roof Mercedes Benz Stadium just south of the Georgia Dome. In addition to Friendship, another historic church — Mount Vernon Baptist Church — was bought by the Georgia World Congress Center and the Falcons for $14.5 million.

 

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