Indianapolis’ oldest black church sold for hotel space

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the mecca of black culture, was sold and will become a hotel.

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church has a historical significance for the whole African American community. It’s the oldest African-American church in Indianapolis. It was used to house enslaved people escaping along the Underground Railroad.

Recently the church has been sold to SUN Development and Management Corp., that plans to redevelop the church and its adjoining parking lot into two hotels. By August, the 150-member congregation will have to move out.

The church tried to raise $2 million for building repairs (putting on a new roof, fixing the foundation, adjusting the floor joists and replacing the electrical system), but, unfortunately, got only $11,000 through church member donations and $100 gift card from an Indianapolis resident.

“We were totally just disappointed,” Bethel AME’s pastor Rev. Lewis Parham said. “People want the building to stay, but people don’t want to do what it takes to keep it here.”

The chairman of the SUN Development and Management Corp. promised to build a replica of the church on the parking lot.

The pastor refused to say how much the corporation paid for the property.

At a time when white Americans refuse to give up on Confederate “heritage” why do we, black people, accept the destruction of significant African-American historical sites for profit?

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