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First Bryan Baptist Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2023 Cohort

First Bryan Baptist Church

(Baptist)

Savannah, Georgia

First Bryan Baptist Church in Savannah is one of the oldest Black Baptist Churches in the United States and possibly the oldest parcel of real estate continuously owned by African Americans in this country. 

First Bryan Baptist Church by Ellie Isaacs

First Bryan Baptist Church by Ellie Isaacs

2023 Cohort

First Bryan Baptist Church

(Baptist)

Savannah, Georgia

First Bryan Baptist Church in Savannah is one of the oldest Black Baptist Churches in the United States and possibly the oldest parcel of real estate continuously owned by African Americans in this country. 

The First Bryan Baptist Church (FBBC) congregation was started in 1788 by Andrew Bryan, an enslaved man at Brompton Plantation. After Bryan self-emancipated, he purchased a parcel of land in the Middle Oglethorpe Ward of Savannah where the current First Bryan Baptist Church now stands. The building was designed by architect John B. Hogg in 1873 and is Classical Revival in style. Leaders of FBBC were part of a delegation that met with General Sherman in 1865 when he issued Special Field Orders No. 15, which redistributed 400,000 acres of land into 40-acre plots for freedmen, and Rev. Ulysses L. Houston of FBBC was one of 33 Black legislators in Georgia during the Reconstruction era.    

First Bryan Baptist Church is an integral part of the Yamacraw Village neighborhood and is immediately adjacent to a historic public housing complex bearing the same name. Members of FBBC are active leaders in the effort to prevent demolition of Yamacraw Village. In addition to advocacy on behalf of its marginalized community, the church is known for its outreach programs, including free lunches for students during the summer, clothing and shoe drives, healthcare fairs, and collaboration with organizations that provide tenant representation and advocacy, job readiness and placement, and health and social services.  

A National Fund grant of $100,000, with matching funds of at least $100,000 to be raised by the congregation, will address stained glass restoration and restroom accessibility upgrades. First Bryan Baptist Church is also a recipient of a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preserving Black Churches program, a project of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund supported by Lilly Endowment Inc.   

First Bryan Baptist Church by Ellie Isaacs

Spotlighting Women’s History at Historic Houses of Worship

Religious institutions have served both as a platform for the advancement of women’s rights and opportunities, and women have played critical roles in advancing religious traditions. The leadership and community building opportunities within these sacred sites have been critical to increasing female independence outside of the home and allowing women to develop institutions that strengthen their congregations and broader communities. The four historic houses of worship highlighted embody positive examples of how the histories of women and religion are inherently linked.

First Church in Oberlin

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez