RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Larry McDonald, the pastor of historic St. Paul AME Church in Raleigh, knows why his faith community is immensely proud of the ministry that began before the Civil War in 1848.
"Let me remind you that slavery hadn't ended. Some of the folks that marched with them were enslaved, some of the folks that marched with them were free," he said from the pulpit Sunday. "But when they marched down the roads with a few white folk, even they put their life in danger."
The church still occupies its original address on Edenton Street where the pews were filled with longtime members and visitors, including North Carolina's Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
"175 is an amazing accomplishment. This is a historical church. This church has set the pace for African American religion in the Raleigh, North Carolina area," she said.
It's an iconic building, one that replaced the original structure that burned down 113 years ago.
"The windows have been refurbished from their original context. The reason the building was rebuilt in 1910 is because there was a massive fire that burned down the wood frame building," said McDonald.
The neighborhood has changed significantly since those days.
"There's high-rise buildings going up, all around, parking is going to be at a premium. This property is highly, highly desirable," Marshall said. "And yet, I believe this congregation knows it's supposed to be here."
Pastor McDonald agrees with her opinion.
"And so as a church, we have to learn how to take what's going on around us, and make it viable and livable in the church," he said.