New Albany church receiving national recognition for role in Underground Railroad

It's a New Albany Church that has long been a beacon of hope--used as part of the Underground Railroad--and today, it received national recognition.

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- For more than a century and a half, Second Baptist Church has stood on East Main Street in New Albany, its steeple rising above the town. Behind the brick walls and under its sanctuary floors illuminated by light streaming through stained glass is a history that will not be forgotten.

"This was an example of Christian benevolency out there in the community to African-Americans in an otherwise very pro-slavery Southern tier in the state of Indiana," historian Pam Peters said.

Under a trap door are cobwebs and stone walls, the remnants of the important role that the Second Baptist Church, also known as the Town Clock Church, had during the Civil War Era, when church members at what was then the Second Presbyterian Church would help slaves on their journey to freedom.

Second Baptist Church trustee Chancea Roberts also gives tours underneath the church, taking people through a part of New Albany's Underground Railroad, where slaves were given food, medical care and supplies.

"When you enter the underground area underneath, you can kind of feel the spirits of the individuals that passed through that way," Roberts said.

"When I moved here with my family in 1976, I was immediately taken by the Ohio River and the fact that the slave state of Kentucky was right at our doorstep here in New Albany," Peters said.

For Peters, also a member of the Friends of the Town Clock Church, her interest in New Albany's history led her on a decades-long quest for knowledge, which led to a campaign to get Second Baptist Church listed as part of the National Park Services' Network to Freedom. Peters said she started the application process back in January this year, with the church officially unveiling its certification Wednesday morning.

"Being one with places like the Harriet Tubman home and all will give this congregation a huge boost," she said.

"It's very, very important to continue to tell the story so the history can be known throughout the United States," Roberts said.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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