Russell Tabernacle CME Church

Russell Tabernacle CME Church is among the churches featured in the Black churches exhibit, sponsored by the African American Heritage Museum of Rutherford County. This church is located on Ledbetter Street in Spindale.

LAKE LURE — The African American Heritage Museum of Rutherford County will present a two-day event this weekend at the Mullen Bible Camp 1900 Freemantown Road, Lake Lure.

Visitors to the event will gain a new understanding of historic Black churches in Rutherford and Polk counties.

Organizers of the event say visitors will come away from this weekend with a new perspective of Rutherford County and this part of the Bible Belt. Photographs of more than 50 historic Black churches from Rutherford, and a handful from Polk will be featured.

The event will be Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m, beginning with remarks from the Rev. Jerret Fite, pastor of Robinson AME Zion Church in South Carolina. He will speak on the importance and impact of the Black church.

The history of gospel music will be presented and sung, by Sister Marnitta Jackson and family of Forest City. There will also be showings of portions of the PBS documentary, “Black Churches.”

On Sunday, from 2-5 p.m. gospel hymns will be played by Ray Jackson, saxophonist and local church historians will speak on the history of black churches. The presentation will end with a tour of the Mullen Bible Camp.

A free packed food bag will be served, and face masks will be available.

The Rev. Robert Hamilton, director of the museum, has coordinated a similar exhibit when he lived in Lincoln County, for the Lincoln County History Museum.

“That was first done over 20 years ago. It was a popular exhibit, and was shown throughout the years,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton took the photos, beginning last winter.

“Most of the photos were taken during the starkness of winter, with no leaves on the trees. Even in the cold, starkness of winter, churches are beacons of hope,” Hamilton said.

“I hope visitors to the exhibition will see how important the church has been in the development of our community. I hope they will see that it is an integral part of the lives of many people,” Hamilton said. “Visitors will have a greater sense of the importance of the church. I think they will get a history lesson, as well as a spiritual lesson. This weekend will be very revealing.”

Organizers say they are looking forward to an exciting time.

“I am hoping we will have a good response from the public,” Hamilton added.

The event is also made possible with funding from a Dogwood Health Trust Racial Committee Grant.