Unearthing First Baptist Williamsburg

Over at Christianity Today, Dan Silliman reports on the excavation at First Baptist Church, an African-American church founded in 1776 by free and enslaved Blacks in Williamsburg, Virginia. Here is a taste:

They dug up broken bits of lamp, the foot of a porcelain doll, a piece of what was once a bowl, and brick fragments from the Baptist church where African Americans worshiped while they were still enslaved. They excavated down to the foundation. Carefully clearing away the earth, they exposed the cross-stacked bricks at the base, dusted them off, and called Connie Matthews Harshaw.

Harshaw stood at the edge of the dig. A member of the historic black First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, she had pushed for this project before anyone knew if they would find anything worthwhile. She had come a long way by faith. Now the archaeologists had something to show her.

“I see it,” she said. “We were here and we were strong. Through it all, we kept the faith, and we were hopeful. That’s a story to tell.”

Colonial Williamsburg, the living history museum that recreates the life of the 18th-century town that was then the capital of the colony of Virginia, is excavating a black Baptist church. The first phase was finished in November, and the second started this January, with the ultimate aim of reconstructing the building and recovering its history.

Read the rest here.

Here is more: