A symbol of hope: Historic African American church in Williamston reopens after renovations

Black History Month

WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — “It was very much in need of repair,” said Pastor Lester Mitchell.

The decades were not kind to Williamston’s Green Memorial Church of Christ, where Mitchell currently serves as pastor.

“The floor was out, the church was pretty much gutted out, and renovations were happening at the time. We wanted to make it a safe place for people to come and congregate and to worship,” said Mitchell.

It’s more than just a place of worship. It was a safe haven for African Americans during the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

“A headquarters for those during the time of the freedom fighters, during the marches, and during a time of segregation where they would come and have their meetings with the NAACP,” he said.

Mitchell made it his mission to save the community landmark. Two years later, Green Memorial is restored, paid for by the congregation.

“It’s awesome. It brings home the principle which is taught in the Bible that if we bring all of our tithes and storehouse unto the Lord, he will rebuke the hands of the devour and he has opened up a window and poured out many blessings,” said Mitchell.

The restoration included the church’s original pews and its bell.

“Now the bell is up in the loft and it lights up at night. We are just so glad that we are able to restore some of its historical value and well as the furnishings,” said Mitchell.

Freedom fighters from the past are still church members, now proud of Williamston’s symbol of hope.

“It’s our opportunity and also our obligation to keep the house of faith as well as our history and our legacy alive,” Mitchell.

Mitchell hopes to renovate the kitchen and second floor of the church to one day create a historic museum.

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