When you drive along 1st Avenue North, former 66th Street Baptist Church grabs your attention. It sits a block off 1st North on the corner of 66th Street and Division Avenue. Its current owner, Iglesia de Jesucristo Palabra Miel, has painted the front of the church several colors to make its brick Romanesque front pop out. I’m sure it was once surrounded by houses but now, its buildings are the only ones on the block.
I was unfamiliar with Iglesia de Jesucristo Palabra Miel, but it appears to be an international Pentecostal denomination founded by Gaspar Sapalú Alvarado in 1998 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It emerged from the Elim Christian Mission in Guatemala.
Decades after the church was built in 1926, interstates I-20 and I-59 were carved through the neighborhood. While this no doubt hurt the church’s role as a neighborhood church, it makes the location a good one for a congregation that seeks to serve many in Birmingham, as well as the Latino community in East Lake and Wahouma. The congregation appears to have purchased the building in 2014.
The address of the church is 6521 Division Avenue, Birmingham AL 35206.
Read this first post for more on this series on Birmingham churches and their cornerstones.
My father, Joe D. Ray, was pastor of 66th St. Baptist Church 1966-1970, before we moved to Decatur, which has been our home ever since. It is also the place I was baptized. Amidst some of the most turbulent years in the history of our country and the city of Birmingham itself, my parents enjoyed their years of ministry there. A countless host of precious saints, white, brown, and Black, have passed through the doors of that sanctuary, which I consider to be Holy Ground. What a privilege it was for me to drive by this weekend (for the first time in a long while) and see not only a well kept building, but also what appeared to be a thriving and renewed place of continued ministry. I wish them well.
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