HISTORY 0F REDEMPTION
RE-CREATION - RESILIENCY - RESTORATION
In 1870 in the Fourth Ward of Atlanta a group of Christians wanted to ensure that the local children were learning to read. That "Sunday School" would soon become Fifth Baptist Church of Atlanta & built a clapboard church at Bell & Gilmer Streets.
In 1900 church records grievously say on account of "apartments and negros moving in" , the church sold the property to a new African- American congregation that became Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Moving to the industrializing Southeast side of the city, the church was renamed Woodward Avenue Baptist Church in the growing neighborhood of Grant Park. In time the church building began to fall into disrepair and a fire did significant damage to the building. As industry sprang up around the building, the decision was made to buy property a few blocks away along Grant Park.
In 1927 the current building was built, with an education building added in 1953. Through the 30's50's the church had a large Sunday School program with an average attendance of more than 700. The construction of I20 in the early 60's saw an exodus of Grant Park residents as many moved to the growing suburbs. In time the membership declined severely and the congregation refused to minister to a changing neighborhood, rejecting initiatives by some pastors to engage increasing populations of African-Americans & people facing homelessness. The church began losing membership.
By 2005 the membership of Park Ave was 12 senior adults who believed God could do something new in the church with new leadership and Park Ave began with an inclusive traditional church model, including a senior Pastor & associate Pastors.
In 2015, PABC shifted again, creating a non- hierarchical six Pastor collective model of church leadership. At that point the church had the first Black Pastor, the first female Pastor and the first LGBTQ-identified Pastor in leadership and began focusing on creating anti-racist community. PABC began in earnest the long road to redemption from its Southern Baptist roots.
The model has proved adaptable. Pastors have shifted and all paradigms have changed since the pandemic. Park Ave. committed to abolition in 2020 amid the uprisings with Pastors in the streets protesting. Today in 2024, Park Avenue is centered on real community safety, outside of policing and we stand with the Movement to Stop Cop City and are a part of the Faith Coalition to Stop Cop City. We use our position as a congregation to uplift and ordain called people to ministry, who have been left ourof structures within the Church hierarchies.
Park Avenue is building relationships with Mvskoke people, the native stewards of this land. We have committed to the LandBack movement and seek to embody decolonial paradigms of building community, living and doing church. Currently, Park Avenue is moving toward toward a three Pastor bivocational team and maintains a community driven abolition framework.