Big Bethel AME awarded $200K to preserve one of Atlanta's oldest and largest Black churches

The "Jesus Saves" sign located on top of the historical Big Bethel AME Church. The sign has been a fixture of the sanctuary since the early 1920s. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

The historic Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a landmark in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood, is receiving a $200,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

This grant aims to preserve the church’s 100-year-old structure, known for its iconic “Jesus Saves” sign.

Capital B reporter Sydney Sims joined “All Things Considered” to discuss the investment for the institution and the surrounding community.

Established in 1847, Big Bethel holds significant cultural and historical importance, having hosted pivotal events like the founding of Morris Brown College and the first NAACP national convention.

The grant will address structural issues in the church, ensuring its longevity for another 40 years.

Sims said Pastor John Foster told her the sum emphasizes the importance of preserving Black churches as pillars of community support beyond Sunday services.

Christopher Alston contributed to this report.