News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


Restoration also requires faith

Church bells chimed the notes to "Faith of Our Fathers" on Monday morning as Regina and I wandered along Broughton Street in Savannah, Ga.

We couldn't tell if the music came from behind us or from our right. If from behind, the bells probably were those of the historic First African Baptist Church, the oldest black church in North America.

If from the other direction, they probably were from Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church on Telfair Square.

It, too, is historic.

The Baptist church dates to December 1777. Built by slaves whose owners gave them time off to erect their church, it has a proud congregation that helps keep the city's rich past alive.

Wesley Monumental is not as old. It traces its beginning to 1807 as the first Methodist church in the city. It began as Wesley Chapel.

Its congregation, too, keeps alive the history of the faith's founder, John Wesley, and his brother, Charles, who together spent time preaching the Gospel in Savannah.

But it was Broughton Street and the grid of squares that create tree-canopied parks throughout the old downtown that had us out walking to observe an astonishing rebirth.

The Savannah of 20 years ago is gone. The Savannah that played a prominent role in this country's youth is back. Its been restored, partly through the influence of Savannah College of Art and Design that bought and restored some 60 buildings. SCAD's campus is in the historic and Victorian districts.

The simplistic answer to why old Savannah is back came from a long-time merchant: The students brought energy.

On Page One today, Regina, our metro editor, tells a fuller story of SCAD and its relationship with Savannah. I took the pictures.

In reading that article, please keep in mind that downtown Decatur and Calhoun Community College can develop synergy if the college were to move its fine arts department to this side of the river.

With faith, the partnership between Calhoun and Decatur can happen.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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