Historic Black Church in the Bronx Survives

The new building will feature church space and affordable housing. (Photo via The Bronx Free Press)

First Union Baptist Church, at 104 years old the oldest Baptist church in the Bronx, will not only keep its doors open after years of financial trouble, but also undergo a renovation, reports Gregg McQueen for The Bronx Free Press.

The church was in danger of losing its current building, where it has resided since 1977 after taking over from a former synagogue.

“Most of our congregation is elderly. They wouldn’t have anyplace else to worship,” said Reverend James Wilson, the church’s pastor.

In February, a settlement was reached with the help of the Legal Aid Society and law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, along with developer Thorobird Companies LLC, that will allow the church to continue operating at its current site, while Thorobird creates a new building featuring 45 affordable housing units for local community members as well as new church space.

After a drawn-out legal battle in bankruptcy court, First Union now has its debt paid off by Thorobird and will end up retaining the deed to the worship space once the project is completed.

Construction is slated to begin later this year and take some 30 months to finish.

“Now that we don’t have to worry about mortgage payments, we’ll be able to use money for other things,” board member Tai Solademi said. What will that include? And what will the new space have that will be an “important attribute for an aging congregation”? Find out at The Bronx Free Press.

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