Repentance and Restoration: One Church Addresses Sins of its Past

Sitting on land that once housed the Chantilly Plantation, The Church at Chantilly first opened its doors in downtown Montgomery in 1824 as First Presbyterian Church of Montgomery.  A move in 2000 brought the church East, to Pike Road.
With a history that long, comes a responsibility to look back at decisions made by previous church leadership.

Pastor Reed DePace has been the pastor at the church since 2008.  He found something very troubling while doing research about the history of the church, a bylaw signed in 1956.

“No blacks would be allowed to become members, they used to be members, in fact our last black member had just died a few years earlier than that, or were allowed to be seated during these times of troubles,” explained DePace.

Sadly, the racism didnt’t stop there.  DePace says in 1975, an African-American pastor filled in while the Senior Pastor was on vacation.

“Some members saw a black man stand up to preach in our church and they got up and they got up and left loudly,” he shared.

Out of that painful part of their history, came the 3-part idea to repent, revise and eventually replant.   One of the first steps was the Resolution of Repentance, which is posted not far from the entrance to the sanctuary.

Membership at the Church at Chantilly has fallen from 1100 in the 1960s, to as low as 50 members in 2008, when DePace arrived.  He believes ignoring these sins is the reason for the decline, but as the church turns a new page, they plan to build Redemption Memorial Park at the site of Chantilly Plantation.  It will center around a monument with plaques depicting freedom from slavery & acknowledging the troubles of their own past, in hopes of moving forward.

The church has created a go-fund-me for the project.  Right now it’s raised just over $600 out of its $50,000 goal.  They also hope to build ball fields and playground areas for the community to use as part of their repentance.  Unlike decades ago, everyone will be welcome.

For more information on the project click here.

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