The Alfred Street Church is poised to make a massive mistake. It’s sad because its rich history is inspirational and ennobling. The trials it and especially its members during the last two centuries surmounted would have caused congregations of weaker constitutions to collapse, if not during slavery, then during reconstruction, or at any time in the long era of Jim Crow segregation and belittlement.
Throughout these travails, the Alfred Street Church has grown. It’s again bursting at its seams. Its current solution: use an entire city block wherein its current facilities are located to create a gigantic house of prayer. Unless it comes to its senses, the Alfred Street Church will entrap itself physically unable to grow any further.
Moreover, the building design it submitted to the city Board for Architectural Review is breathtaking, but for the wrong reasons. It celebrates the Alfred Street Church wealth; not its piety and purpose.
It even insults the eye not to mention the purse of its tithers, the church-going members who’ll be on the hook to pay the many-million dollar mortgage for this monolithic structure. This is not the right message for a church that has forever been dedicated to the poor and the needy and those marginalized by their skin color.
If its members really want to pay homage foremost to Mammon while simultaneously insulting their neighbors who have beseeched them to scale down their structure, then they should at least consider where their next church and associated structures should be built when it outgrows the too-big one it seems intent on building.
It’s not too late for the Alfred Street Church leaders to draw strength from the only city Architectural Board member to oppose the building design. Coincidentally, she was the only board member who actually walked the building site. After she did, she realized it was no place for a mega-church. Pray the Alfred Street Church leaders and members have the same epiphany.