If Little Rock AME Zion Church succeeds in buying back the red-brick building that houses the Afro-American Cultural Center, the congregation will use it to house the church’s nonprofit community development corporation, the Rev. Dwayne Walker has told Qcitymetro.com.
The church also may offer office space to other groups doing community service work, Walker said.
The 1,000-member congregation has offered the city $590,000 to repurchase the landmark building, which was completed in 1911 by freed slaves and bought by the city in 1981.
The Afro-American Cultural Center will move later this year to the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, which is under construction at Tryon and Stonewall streets.
“Naturally, we’re very excited about the prospect of getting it back,” Walker said of the building.
The church’s CDC was initiated in 2005 shortly after Walker arrived as senior pastor and was approved early in 2006. The congregation currently supports several community service efforts, Walker said, including a summer camp for children, its “Bread of Life” program that feeds the homeless each Saturday and a tutoring program.
Walker said he would like to see such programs consolidated under the church’s CDC, where they would qualify for grants and other funding. He said he also wants to offer space to other nonprofits that are working with the church to uplift those who are disadvantaged.
“We feel the facility will help us with that,” he said. “The biggest thing about it is we want that building back, and we know it would provide for us an opportunity to help some people who otherwise would not get the kind of assistance we hope to provide for them.”
The City Council may vote on the Church’s offer later this month. Waker said members of his congregation will show up in force to support the proposal.