As Nashville continues to rapidly grow, neighborhood churches are forced to make difficult decisions. Will they decide to sell their property or will they continue to stay where they are?
Pastor Morris Tipton is the pastor at First Baptist Church in East Nashville with a small congregation of close to 100 people. The church has been there for over 100 years and was originally a church of mostly freed slaves.
“Not much has changed with this sanctuary, probably as long as I’ve been living, and I’m 52,” Tipton said.
Although the church remains unchanged, the surrounding area is transforming daily. Expensive apartments are being built and fresh new businesses are taking their place. Land prices are soaring, and, in result of the thriving development, many churches that have been in the area for generations are selling their properties.
First Baptist Church in East Nashville; however, will continue to stay where they are and have hopes that their congregation will continue to grow. Pastor Morris Tipton has hopes that their congregation will begin to see more white members among their historically black members.
Two miles down the road, Family Affair Ministries in South Inglewood has decided to sell their property due to its struggle to adapt to the changing neighborhood. They are selling their property for $3.5 million which is seven times more than what they paid in 2001.
Family Affair Ministries was created to bring restoration to the people in East Nashville, and Pastor Glenda Sutton said that the area used to have the nickname “Little Hell Hole.”
“People didn’t talk to each other. There was just a lot of violence, a lot of anger. It was a very, very, dark place,” she said.
As the affordable housing leaves, Sutton has noticed that the new neighbors are not as interested in becoming involved.
“It’s been more like ‘Can you move? Can you leave? We want the neighborhood,” Pastor Sutton said.
Family Affair Ministries will benefit from the property sale but now struggle to find a new location as they leave the area they worked so hard to improve.
“Our challenge is where do we go?” Sutton said.