New Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church celebrated 150 years as the oldest African American church in Buckhead on Sunday, April 26.
In a standing-room-only worship service, a diverse audience, including church members, visitors, neighbors, politicians, and press gathered to honor the institution that began in 1869 as “New Hope Camp Ground,” where church and school lessons would take place.
The church’s well-preserved sanctuary has been used for scenes in movies like “Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Presiding Prelate of the 6th Episcopal District of the AME Church, delivered a passionate but timely sermon entitled “Passing the Faith,” where he emphasized the importance of elder generations sharing their stories and their faith to younger generations.
“New Hope, as you celebrate this 150th anniversary, make sure you pass down the faith,” Jackson said. “So that our children know the way that God has brought us.”
New Hope AME has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009.
Established in 1869, four years after the Civil War, by Black servants of White landowners residing in Buckhead, New Hope AME became a lace of worship for Black servants of White landowners who felt that they were disconnected from the rest of Atlanta’s Black community.
The land that the church sits on was donated by James Smith, who gave two acres for a “negro” church and school; signing over the land in his eight days before his death in 1972.
Historians have surmised it was very probably that Smith allowed “negros” to congregate on his land prior to the church’s establishment.
During the service, Matt Westmoreland, Atlanta City Council Post 2 At-Large, presented a proclamation from the City of Atlanta that declared April 26 “New Hope AME Church Day.”
Former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga), and U.S. Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga), all sent their well wishes to New Hope AME