Historic church buys land in Port Wentworth

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PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) — A historic church in Port Wentworth is getting land promised by the city, but not in the way it had hoped.

It’s a years-long negotiation that ended at a city council meeting this week.

Near Highway 21 and Chemin Berrien, you will see a church steeped in history.

“They started as a house of praise on the river.”

Richmond Baptist…

“Our historical marker says the founding pastor was the third pastor of First African Baptist and First African said he was the sixth pastor…so that was a controversy,” Pastor Eugene Barney said.

There could be a lot of changes with growth and development in Port Wentworth, but this church remains the same after over 100 years. Only difference, they used to have a little more room.

“When they were kids, they played in front of Richmond. There were 70 more feet.

That’s why there were years of negotiating with the city to get more land after some of their people were taken with the widening of Highway 21. Just like they thought they were getting two acres for free…

“Certain constitutional questions regarding the separation of church and state,” said Steve Davis.

The church had two options – rent for $1 for five years or buy the land for $40,000.

“You get your hopes built like when we were kids when your mom said ‘I’m going to take you to… I’m going to take you to’ and then at the end of the day, you don’t go. Just a bit disappointing but we are good”

Richmond Baptist is always excited to expand.

“Grateful for the two acres at this amount. Recently purchased an acre for more than that.

And it’s finally a step towards safety…

“We keep the doors closed but we don’t need anyone to shout and run out.”

This is a phase the church is ready for and soon these church doors might look a little different.

“I don’t even have all the answers but we pray and write and God keeps dropping and giving directions.”

The city manager said they had done the minimum possible on the price given the location and legal restrictions.

He says it’s a way to hopefully help them get over the past.

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