Montgomery Church Offers Lesson In Dealing With Economic Recession

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A major housing slump, an unpredictable stock market and the President-elect sounding a warning.

"It's altogether likely that things could get worse before they get better," said President-elect Barack Obama.

Fear abounds. Something Reverend George Richardson's church can so readily identify with considering what happened to the old Hutchinson Street Baptist in the late 1950s. The church was located where part of Interstate 85 sits along Hutchinson Street near downtown Montgomery. A dark night of the soul during the height of the Civil Rights movement.

"The congregation was both angry and fearful. After the Mass meeting that night, they came and bombed the church and there was moderate damage to the church," said Richardson.

But major damage to the confidence of the hundreds who worshipped there.

"The congregation was somewhat despondent and they re-gathered themselves," said Richardson.

And then not long after the church had another mountain to climb. The interstate system forced the congregation to move.

Much like the uncertainties of the economy, the church spent a few years in the wilderness. 7 years without a permanent home, 7 years at Houston Hill Junior High School in Montgomery.

"The church has come a long way," Richardson said.

Fast-forward decades later. Hutchinson Street Baptist is now Hutchinson Missionary Baptist on East Grove Street. The church is a few weeks away from celebrating its 109th anniversary, one-thousand member strong and there are plans on paper to add a $5 million Family Life Center.

"History proves that overcoming obstacles strengthens your character," said Richardson.

And strengthens the courage Richardson believes to believe in the old phrase 'This Too Shall Pass' whether it's the shock of a church bomb or the economy's implosion.

"It's a matter of being patient.. being faithful and keeping hope," said Richardson who knows of at least 3 members of his congregation who have lost their jobs in the recession.

Church officials tell WSFA 12 News they don't ever recall anyone ever being arrested in the bombing case.