Church, Detroit, NFL draft

Historic Church With Ties To Civil Rights Movement Receives $150K Restoration Grant 

Look at God!

Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in Natchez, Mississippi, is receiving a large grant that will help restore its historic setting. 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the church a $150,000 grant through the Preserving Black Churches program from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The funds will help the 111-year-old community staple with much-needed repairs, including a new steeple and windows. Church pastor Johnathan Hargrave said this would allow the church to continue to let its light shine.

“Beulah has been a beacon in our community for many years, and now we can continue to let our light shine by preserving this great historic establishment.”

Dating back to the late 1800s, Beulah has opened its doors to people from all walks of life, especially during the 1960s. Cultural Heritage Tourism Manager for Visit Natchez, Roscoe Barnes, said the church was known as a safe space for African Americans to discuss strategies for rallies and meetings at the height of the civil rights movement.

“Most of the meetings were held right here when they planned and put strategies together on how they were going to fight for civil rights and stand up against white supremacists,” Barnes said.

“This church stood up against the violence, and the people of this church stood up, and they spoke up, and they marched in spite of the threats.”

They got their chance in 1965 when the president of the Adams County Chapter of the NAACP, George Metcalfe, was almost killed when his car was bombed. Protests erupted in the streets, regardless of police orders restricting people from marching or setting up at Beulah due to a set curfew. People continued to gather as hundreds were arrested and taken to jail. “When the people look back and see those people, they see courage in the midst of fire,” Barnes said. 

“They see strength, they see grace, they see determination and persistence. They see, ‘Hey, these are our people, so it should instill a sense of pride.'”

Beulah has a lot to be proud of. Being one of 31 churches approved out of over 500 churches that applied, the funds will provide much-needed tenderness, love, and care. Visitors, whom deacon Robert Morgan says are “slimmer and slimmer,” can see what the church has been through — from visible bullet holes in the windows to bricks cracking and shifting outside. Morgan looks at the grant as a blessing.

“The years have taken its toll, not only on the building but also on the congregation,” he said. “Getting this blessing in the form of a grant was from Almighty God.”

Grant funds are supposed to be distributed in a few weeks, with repairs beginning in a few months.