Church may give way to new stadium

2:11 AM, Mar 9, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Church may give way to new stadium

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed and Falcons president Rich McKay leave the Governor's office at the Georgia Capitol, Nov. 5, 2012

ATLANTA, Ga. -- It's a modest church with 450 members. But its history is remarkable. Founded in a railroad box car by slaves during the Civil War, its least enduring pastor was Maynard Jackson Sr., father of the three-term Atlanta mayor. 

Jackson was pastor for 8 years following World War II. The previous pastor preached for more than 60.

Friendship Baptist Church values its faith, its history -- and it values the plot of land on which it has sat since 1880 -- one block from the Georgia Dome, on the edge of the site that could house the Dome's billion dollar replacement.

"The property is hallowed ground," said Lloyd Hawk, chairman of the church's board of trustees. He says Friendship church has been in continuous talks with the city, the Georgia World Congress Center and the Atlanta Falcons about a new stadium -- and the desire of those two entities to at best, crowd the old church next door.

It's definitely not been an adversarial relationship at all.

Friendship is one of three pieces of private property that may have to be purchased for a new stadium. 

Another is Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. Another is a small gypsy lot right next to the current Georgia Dome. Hawk says Friendship Baptist Church values its surrounding community more than it values its own hallowed ground. 

"We want to do not only what's good for the church but what's good for the community. We're here to serve the community and not vice versa." 

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