GOSPSOUL: Aretha Franklin’s Father Opens New Bethel Church

Aretha Franklin‘s father Reverend C.L. Franklin opened the New Bethel Baptist Church today (March 10, 1963) in Detroit.

The original New Bethel Baptist Church was located on Hastings Street, but the congregation was growing so fast that they needed a new location.

The new church took two years to construct and was housed in a former theater on Detroit’s Westside on Linwood and Philadelphia, in an area known as “The Black Bottom.”

An all-black construction company handled the job for the new church, which seated over 2,500 people.

The opening of the church was a momentous occasion, with Reverend C.L. Franklin receiving telegrams from President John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

Shortly after his death from a June 1979 home invasion shooting, Linwood and Philadelphia would be renamed C.L. Franklin Boulevard in the Reverend’s honor.

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