By Crystal Burns
Members of Trenton’s first African-American church recently made the difficult decision to tear down their former home.
First Baptist Church, now located on Gibson Street, met for decades in the 1898-constructed building on North High Street. The church had sat empty since First Baptist relocated in 1999. After 10 to 15 years of discussing their options, members decided to have the building demolished.
“It was very tough,” said Rickey Hooker, chairman of the deacons at First Baptist. “We have a lot of members that were baptized in that church.”
There was some thought to having the North High Street location designated as a historical site, Hooker said. Members had also tried to sell the property.
“It was just too far gone,” Hooker said.
In July 2016, the church caught on fire when lightning struck a nearby utility pole, but Hooker said that had no affect on the decision to demolish the building.
Organized in 1850, First Baptist was established as an African-American church in 1867, just two years after the Civil War ended. The church is currently without a pastor, but Hooker said the search process is going well. The church has received more than 20 applications.
First Baptist is one of the largest black churches in the community.