For the month of April we will be sharing 50% of our Sunday offering each week with Bethel AME Reparations Project, here in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

Bethel AME Church was founded in 1808, and over 150 years, it has become a flourishing congregation of 3000 members, central to the Lower Hill community. The church supported its members and the whole community, including education for black children when they were not welcomed in other schools. A vibrant and thriving center of community life through the 1950s, Bethel AME church’s land and building were taken by the City Urban Redevelopment Authority under eminent domain to make way for the construction of the (now replaced) Civic Arena. Many of AME’s parishioners were also displaced, and they were given a new, less accessible location. This was a devastating loss for church members and the whole neighborhood, although Bethel AME continues in a new Hill District Location.
Over the last few years, under the leadership of Pastor Dale Snyder, Bethel AME Church has created a plan for reparation for its losses, beginning with negotiating with the Pgh Penguins for a grant of part of its former property. The hope is to build affordable housing and other community services to revive and support the Hill District, which has such a proud and dynamic history.
On March 17, about 40 members of First Unitarian, along with perhaps 15 others from other churches, attended a powerful and moving Table Talk presented by Pastor Snyder and colleagues from the Bethel AME Reparations Team. In preparation for this, attendees read a book, REPARATIONS, A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair, about the concept of reparations and its basis in belief.
We hope to be able to support, contribute, and advocate for this important plan as it evolves.

On Sunday, April 7, we were joined by Pastor Erin Jones, who spoke of her work with St. Andrews Church in working with the Bethel AME Project.