PHOTOS: These six historic churches in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood are simply divine

The Fairfax neighborhood is home to some of Cleveland's most awe-inspiring architecture and sacred landmarks—including the city's oldest African-American church. Even as the Fairfax landscape changes dramatically, these historic churches stand strong as centers of community and important staples of the area. See their beauty through our managing photographer Bob Perkoski's lens, and learn a bit about their history!

Antioch Baptist Church
Antioch Baptist Church
8869 Cedar Ave., became only the second African-American Baptist Church in Cleveland when it was founded by Rev. Alexander Moore in 1893. Now run by Rev. Dr. Todd C. Davidson, its strong congregation of 1,500+ members focuses on community outreach. In 2002, Antioch Baptist Church started their own nonprofit, the Antioch Development Corporation, to further serve Fairfax through hot meals and a food pantry.

Antioch Baptist Church


The United House of Prayer for All People

Nicknamed the “Lion Church” by locals, Fairfax’s United House of Prayer for All People8700 Cedar Ave., is a part of a larger network of churches founded by Bishop Charles Manuel ("Sweet Daddy Grace") Grace. The first church was built in 1919 in the east and has since expanded to over 145 places of worship in 29 states.

United House of Prayer


Emmanuel Baptist Church

Founded in 1916 in the home of Herbert Taylor, Emmanuel Baptist Church7901 Quincy Ave., was first known as the 2nd Emmanuel Baptist Church before undergoing a name change in 1941. Despite its many trials over the years—from early financial struggles to a fire that destroyed the original church—Emmanuel still stands strong over a century later. Its current pastor, Rev. Dr. David A. Cobb Jr., has developed many initiatives since his addition to Emmanuel—such as the Emmanuel Community Help Fair, Wednesday Noonday Bible Study, and various youth programs, to name a few.

Emmanuel Baptist Church

Olivet Institutional Baptist Church

Established in 1931, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church8712 Quincy Ave., is home to one of the largest African-American congregations in Cleveland, boasting over 4,000 congregants that travel to the church from all around Ohio. Olivet was a fixture of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, serving as a primary location for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he would visit Fairfax. Its current pastor, Rev. Dr. Jawanza Karrien Colvin, is notable for his various honors regarding his commitment to the Christian faith.

Olivet Institutional Church


Union Grove Baptist Church

Founded in 1943, Union Grove Baptist Church, 8932 Quincy Ave., has been a stalwart in the Fairfax community from its humble beginnings as a home church to its current location on Quincy Ave. Its pastor of 10 yearsRev. Kenneth W. Rogers, succeeded his father, who was pastor for 45 years. When the church acquired their space on Quincy Ave., they renovated the century-old building, purchasing lots around the location to build additions and create a parking lot.

Although the congregation's membership has decreased in recent years, Union Grove still remains active in Fairfax through its support of Karamu House; harvesting and sharing vegetables from the church garden; and passing out baskets to the community on Thanksgiving.

Union Grove Baptist Church


St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church

St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church 8401 Cedar Ave., stands today as a beacon of the community since its inception in 1894. In the wake of two fires that nearly destroyed the congregation entirely, St. James became a prime spot for civil rights activism in Fairfax. Now more than 120 years later, the church continues to host several annual events such as Family Unity Day (implemented by Rev. Elmo A. Bean) and the annual Excellence in the Arts Recital (which serves to showcase the talents of local students).

St. James AME Church

This article is part of our On the Ground - Fairfax community reporting project in partnership with Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation, Cleveland Clinic, PNC Bank, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and Cleveland Development Advisors. Read the rest of our coverage here.

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