ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a church founded in 1875 and important to the civil rights movement in St. Augustine faces foreclosure.
On Sunday morning, sounds of worship radiate out of the Greater St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church, but with the church facing foreclosure, the music could turn to silence.
St. Mary's was granted a loan from the bank for restoration, but couldn't make payments after the 2008 recession and now owes $211,000 more than it originally borrowed due to arrears and interest rates. The church is currently trying to raise $50,000 by February 13.
"Every penny that comes toward this purpose will go to helping get this church back on solid ground," said Pastor Hodges.
Pastor Hodges says the church is not close to raising that $50,000 just yet, but the congregation remains optimistic.
It is a church deeply rooted in history and the civil rights movement in St. Augustine. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rallied marchers at St. Mary's in the 1960s.
Almane Lowndes, now nearly 100 years old, can still remember that day.
"Words can't express how I felt seeing Dr. King here with us," Lowndes said.
"It is very important that they leave this as a memento of who we are and where we come from," says Minister Raymond Dunlap.
As Lowndes' generation passes the torch to the next leaders, she says the youth need to remember the message Dr. King preached years ago on the church steps and across the country.
"Take heed in what is being said about Dr. King and try to do some of the things that he put inside of us. So that we can follow along and complete the path that he started," says Lowndes.
If you would like to donate, you can send donations to the church directly at 69 Washington Street in St. Augustine, Fla.
First Coast News 12/25