One easily overlooked marker of a changing neighborhood is the transition that takes place with its churches. Historically in East Austin, the African American communities have a tradition of small neighborhood churches. Often held together by loyal families and dedicated ministers, this generation of church goers is aging. Peaceful St. James Baptist Church is just one of dozens of small churches whose neighborhoods have changed dramatically.
Church-a-Day will be a chance to document these structures as they respond to change. The options are stark and simple. These humble, mostly wood-framed buildings will be preserved, sold, adapted, or demolished.
Peaceful St. James has new high-end residences both sides. With some research, a bit of the church’s story showed up on-line. A long-time pastor, Rev. John Thomas Townsend Jr., died in 2015. I don’t have any information on the new pastor, Rev. William Martin, Jr., but it’s clear that he and the remaining faithful will determine the fate of Peaceful St. James.