Historic Black Churches Received $20 Million Donation On Martin Luther King Day

A sweeping project aims to restore 50 houses of worship across the country.

Historic Black churches that are struggling with inadequate funding or face demolition are getting some major relief in order to allow congregation to continue.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, a new effort to preserve the churches received a $20 million donation that will go to help congregations, such as one in Mayfield, Kentucky that was slammed during the tornado last month that killed more than 20 people.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the enormous contribution is coming from Lilly Endowment Inc., which supports religious, educational, and charitable causes, donated the funds to the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund as seed money for the Preserving Black Churches Project.

The donation announcement from Lilly Endowment coincided with Monday’s (January 17) national Martin Luther King Day.

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Brent Leggs, executive director of the fund, says the project will provide assistance with things including asset management and helping historic churches tell their own stories rather than simply replacing broken windows or cosmetic damage.

Leggs told the CS Monitor that Black churches have been a key element of the African American community through generations, and preserving them is a civil rights and racial justice issue.

“Historically Black churches deserve the same admiration and stewardship as the National Cathedral in Washington or New York’s Trinity Church,” he noted

The project, in total, plans to assist more than 50 Black churches nationwide over the next three years. While active congregations are the main focus, funding may also go toward old church buildings that now house projects like treatment programs or community centers, Leggs explained.

“It still stewards the legacy of the Black church but for a new purpose,” he said.

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