In 1879, the first public school for blacks in Atlanta, Gate City Colored School, was founded in the basement of the church, though it would later move to Houston Street Morris Brown College held its first classes here in 1881 before moving to its first campus. Big Bethel was known as “Sweet Auburn‘s City Hall.” In 1911, President William Howard Taft spoke here, as did Nelson Mandela in 1990.
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ATLANTA – Concluding its 176th Anniversary, the historic Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta will host its 91st production of the play, Heaven Bound! This powerful spiritual black production on the commitment to Jesus Christ, will take place Nov. 10 and Nov. 11: Eventbrite: 91st Heaven Bound Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite or
Heaven Bound is the longest consecutive running production in the United States of America, (until the global pandemic of 2019) with generational family cast members, who include Jory Young, who stars in the role of Satan (on the first night), previously played by his father, Roland Young. Young plays a drunkard on the second night, where the role of Satan will be played by Glenn Samuels.
More than 1 million people from all walks of life have been uplifted and entertained by Heaven Bound, the folk drama that follows, through song and verse, the struggles between Satan and a band of pilgrims on their way down the path of glory that leads to the golden gates.
For more information: Log onto: HEAVEN BOUND (bigbethelame.org) or call 404-827-9707, ext. 109.
BIG BETHEL AME CHURCH:
Big Bethel AME Church is the oldest African-American congregation in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, and according to AME historical documents, it is the mother church of AME in North Georgia. Big Bethel AME Church is located at 220 Auburn Avenue NE in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. It is the “first” church in the North Atlanta District, in the Atlanta-North Georgia Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Big Bethel was founded in 1847 as Union Church in the town of Marthasville, Georgia. Marthasville became Terminus, and finally Atlanta, and Union Church became Bethel Church, then Bethel Tabernacle. At the close of the Civil War, the AME Church spread rapidly throughout the former Confederacy, and the Bethel Tabernacle allied herself with the denomination, becoming Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her first pastor was Rev. Joseph Woods.