Second African Baptist Church, Savannah

#26 of 31 in Historic Sites in Savannah
Religious Site · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
First African Baptist Church was organized in 1773 under the leadership of Reverend George Leile and constituted in December of 1777 as a body organized believers. Under the leadership of the 3rd Pastor Reverend Andrew C. Marshall, the congregation obtained the property where the present sanctuary stands. Marshall also organized the first black Sunday school in North America and changed the name of the church from “First Colored Baptist” to “First African Baptist”. The sanctuary was completed in 1859 under the direction of the 4th Pastor Reverend William J. Campbell.

The ceiling of the church is in the design of a “Nine Patch Quilt” which was symbolic of the church being a safe house for runaway slaves. Beneath the lower auditorium floor is a finished sub-floor known as the “Underground Railroad”. There is 4ft of height between both floors. The holes in the floor are in the shape of an African prayer symbol known as a Congolese Cosmogram that served a purpose of ventilation.

First African Baptist Church has been a place of leadership and service since its inception. Reverend Emmanuel King Love, 6th Pastor, led the movement to establish Savannah State University, formerly known as Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth. Additionally, Rev. Love played a major role in the establishment of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, Paine College in Augusta, GA and Central City College formerly in Macon, GA. During the time of segregation the Rev. Dr. Ralph Mark Gilbert led the movement on civil rights in Savannah, GA. First African Baptist Church served in many capacities one being the largest place in the city for blacks and whites to gather.

Visitors from all walks of life have visited our sanctuary and left inspired. Join Us!!
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  • The church is famous as the spot from which General Rufus Saxton read Sherman’s “40 acres (and a mule)” order. Excellent piece of history.  more »
  • One of my best memories of my road trip was in this church on a sunday morning....the music the singing fantastic to this day I still remember ir and smile  more »
  • Very nice people. I hope to visit again one day.
  • Pastor delivered a powerful message that resonated with me. Friendly congregation and nice, old school, soulful hymns

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