COLUMBUS, Ga. -
Members of the Porter Memorial Baptist Church held its final service, Sunday. Members were emotional as they entered the place they called home for nearly a century.
The church closed its doors because of a decline in membership and finances.
The joy they received at the church was unmatched, members say.
"There's not another church in Columbus that has the love that this church does," said church member, Mary Messer.
Porter Memorial member, Dot Ward, said her husband was four months old when the church was founded. They were married in 1947 and attended the church together for 67 years. Her grandson was baptized at the church last Sunday, making him the final new member at age 15. Ward said it was hard saying bye to a place that holds so many memories.
"We feel like we just excommunicated we don't know where we're going to go to church or what but wherever the Lord leads us, that's where we'll go, we'll find our place," said Ward.
One member said the church was also a large part of Columbus' history during the civil rights movement. Black activists would come to predominantly white churches just to see if they would be allowed in service.
"Some churches hired extra ushers to keep them out, and at Porter at a business meeting, the sweet wonderful people discussed it and voted, it is in the minutes that any person of any color that wishes to come and worship would be welcomed here in our doors," said Trecie Whitaker.
Members said though Porter was only a building, there was no other place they would rather have spent their lives.
"It's home, and I just really can't fathom yet what it's going to be like to not be here," said Messer.