The Holy City’s historic core is losing houses of worship because of gentrification, limited parking and space to grow and do ministry, as well as high church maintenance costs. Shiloh, Greater Macedonia AME, Zion-Olivet Presbyterian, St. Matthew Baptist, Plymouth Church and New Tabernacle Fourth Street Baptist have either moved or have tried to leave downtown — some seeking new opportunities in areas like West Ashley and North Charleston.
Between 1980 and 2010, the peninsula’s black population dropped by more than half from about 30,000 to around 15,000. Simultaneously, its white population rose from 15,000 to just above 20,000.
This coincided with rising rents and property values. For example, the median sale price for homes north of the Crosstown Expressway has more than quadrupled since the late 1990s, from $74,500 in 1996 to $325,000 in 2014.
As the historically black communities change, local churches feel the impact. Enticed by lucrative offers from eager home buyers, some of the churches’ members sell their downtown homes, move away, and never return.
In other instances, increased development leaves congregations landlocked with no room to expand. Parking also becomes more scarce.
Historically black Charleston churches are moving off of the peninsula as gentrification and limited parking leave congregations without room to expand.https://t.co/Cjl2zyFKx4
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) November 5, 2018