February is a Black History Month. We make an extra effort to learn about the Black culture and history, and religion is a big part of it. Do you know what the first Black Church of the United States was? It was no other than the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia.
The church was founded in 1777 to host the First Black Baptist congregation members in North America organized in 1773. The creation of this church can be majorly attributed to George Leile, an African-American man who was still enslaved back in 1773. That year, he became the first Black man who got licensed to preach Baptism to the plantation slaves in the state of Georgia. Leile played a key role in founding the First African Baptist Church in the country.
Interesting Facts about the Church
1. George Leile was the first pastor, and Reverend Thurmond N. Tillman currently holds this title (as per the church's website).
2. Church was a hiding place for enslaved Black people during the Civil War. If you visit the church today, you'll see holes in the sanctuary holding room. They are there for a reason: there was a 4-feet space under the sanctuary floorboards where black people hid during the war. The "air holes" in the floor allowed them to breathe while hiding under the floor.
3. In 1782, the British evacuated many African-Americans out of the country. Pastor Leile was among them, and he ended up in Jamaica. He then became the first Baptist missionary in Jamaica.
4. In the 1960s, the Church served as a base for the Civil Rights movement.
5. The church has a Sunday mass, a Wednesday prayer, a Bible Study on Thursdays, and other services, including live steams.
This is what the church looks like today:
Overall, the First African Black Church in Savannah, Georgia, is a cornerstone of Black culture in the United States, with rich history and culture.