After raising $31,000 in funds and receiving the promise of labor and materials, the campaign to elevate the Historic First Baptist Church and Education Center at 412 S. First St. above the flood plain is nearing the point where the church can be lifted, according to Norbert Gildehaus, committee co-chair.
The committee will host a barbecue Friday, June 1, on the Brad Reed Insurance Company lot at First and St. Louis streets in the hope of reaching the goal needed to lift the building.
Barbecue will be offered from about 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. or until all items are sold out.
“We’re so close, we’re making a last-ditch effort to get the project off the ground,” Gildehaus said.
The small frame church dates to 1874, according to the cornerstone, making it the oldest African-American church in the region.
Gildehaus and co-chair Bob Masson launched the campaign to elevate the church immediately after the May 2, 2017, flood.
Both men had assisted in the renovation of the church following the flood of 2015, which destroyed the interior of the sanctuary and education building.
Reed, a downtown businessman and civic booster, joined the campaign.
The church has been the site of religious services, weddings, funerals and conferences for the East Franklin County African-American community for more than 140 years.