Friday, May 24, 2024

A rainbow is seen Sept. 25 over St. Augustine’s African-Orthodox Church as it celebrates its 100th birthday. (Photo: Black History in Action for Cambridgeport)

St. Augustine’s African-Orthodox Church celebrated its 100th birthday Sept. 25 with a gospel concert in the street in front of the church at 137 Allston St., Cambridgeport. The event also served as a fundraiser for the church, which recently got two matching grants totaling $175,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Cambridge Historical Commission to complete the exterior restoration of the structure. The church must match those dollars.

It started as an Episcopal mission, and since its inception has been a welcoming place for Cambridge’s West Indian, African-American and other immigrant communities. The African Orthodox religion was started as the religious wing of Garvey’s black political movement, led throughout the 1920s by the founder of the denomination, Bishop George Alexander McGuire, according to materials provided by the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association. This church was given the designation of the “pro-cathedral” of the African Orthodox religion, meaning it was the home base of the bishop and founder of the religion himself.

The 100th birthday celebration included a gospel concert. (Photo: Black History in Action for Cambridgeport)

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority granted St. Augustine’s nonprofit tenant, Black History in Action for Cambridgeport, a $10,000 technical assistance grant in early September to help the church plan for its future, said Kris Manjapra, board chair of the group. “We’re excited to build a shared vision for the future of St. Augustine’s rooted in its rich history,” Manjapra said in a press release. “We look forward to engaging the community in this process.”

The church redid its roof in 2019 and next will add more insulation, re-shingle, fortify the windows, install an accessible ramp and restore the church’s original side entrance, Manjapra said.

The event also served as a fundraiser to match two grants. (Photo: Black History in Action for Cambridgeport)

This post was written from a press release.