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First African Baptist Church
The First African Baptist Church of Savannah, GA., one of the oldest Black churches in North America, began on this date in 1777.
Originally called the First Colored Church, the Reverend George Leile’s pastoral life is tied to its beginning. He began leading this congregation on the second Sunday in December that year, marking the beginning of this house of worship. The First African Baptist Church has survived the birth of America, the repressive hand of a hostile British, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Black Codes and the Revolutionary changes of the 1960s upon their community. For over 200 years the First African Baptist Church has served on behalf of all people and is a standing monument for black America in the eyes of God. One of the slaves baptized by Minister Leile was Andrew Bryan. He became the second pastor of the church, purchasing the fourth site on which they worshiped on West Bryan Street.
The congregation changed the name of the church in 1822 from the First Colored Church to First African Baptist Church. On July 26, 1826, the Sunday school was organized with the aid of the Independent Presbyterian Church. The members of the congregation erected the present sanctuary in 1859. This is the first Black-owned building in the State of Georgia that was constructed of brick. For years it was known as the "Brick Church." The pipe organ was installed in 1888.
Currently the church houses a museum containing archives and memorabilia that hold church records dating back to the 18th century. Listed in the National Register of Historic places, the First African Baptist Church continues operation at 24 Montgomery Street, Savannah, Georgia 31401.
An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage
by Marvin Andrew McMickle
Judson Press, Copyright 2002