Historic Black Cleveland church awarded funding to help restore building

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland’s oldest Black Baptist church was awarded funding to help keep their doors open.

Shiloh Baptist Church located on Scovill and East 55th Street was in danger of relocating due to costly repairs needed to the stained glass domed ceiling in addition to other parts of the building.

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“We found that our dome was the major problem, that it was beginning to deflect glass and it presented a major safety hazard that we would not be able to inhabit the sanctuary,” said pastor Lisa Goods.

For 175 years, the church has been a community institution, Goods said. Despite ongoing issues to the building, including plaster repairs needed and tape on some of the stained glass windows the church congregation refused to leave the community served.

“We have had a commitment to this community,” she said. “This is where our roots are but it is also the most impoverished community, not only in Cleveland, but Central is in the 95 percentile in this nation.”

This month, Goods learned the church is one of 31 historic Black churches nationwide to be awarded a $150,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund in its second round of Preserving Black Churches grants.

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“Our building is not only a city of Cleveland but a national historic landmark,” said Goods. “Dr. Martin Luther King spoke from Shiloh, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Carl, Lewis Stokes.”

Pictures of their visits remain on the glass-encased church bulletin boards. Shiloh hopes to safeguard its legacy by launching a capital campaign to raise $3 million. The congregation raised $17,000 to put up netting under the glass-domed ceiling as a temporary fix before learning about the grant awarded.

“We were overjoyed to be able to receive this grant,” said Goods. “…This means that we can stay in this building. This means we can continue to be an institution in this community. This means that the services we provide and the worship in this place will continue.”

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