Historic Church Gets New Addition

By Cody Holyoke - bio | email

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- It housed the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement and one of the most influential men in American history.

Now, years later, a look behind Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church reveals a brand new addition.

"It will certainly augment and enhance what we do over there at the main church building," explained Rev. Michael Thurman, the church's pastor.

The new "Legacy Center" will give another 6,300 square feet to the congregation.

"We want to bring self-help programs.  We want to bring the initiative that--through spiritual empowerment--people's lives can be changed," Thurman said.

The real legacy, however, lies within the original building, where Dr. Martin Luther King preached some 50 years ago.

With tourists stopping by constantly to get a taste of history, using the building as a functioning church proved difficult.

"[The new] facility was designed to alleviate those challenges and meet the needs of our congregation as we continue to grow," Thurman explained.

With Montgomery so steeped in history, Thurman says this is just another chapter, allowing the church to continue its legacy of leadership.

"This will certainly go down as one of the high watermarks within the life of the church," he said.

Church members will continue to use the sanctuary for services, but the $1.8 million addition will let administrators and parishioners alike have the space they need, while tourists visit one of the most important buildings of the civil rights movement.

The building will open on the second Sunday in December, the 131st anniversary of the church.