Founded in 1886, Ebenezer was a spiritual center of the civil rights movement from 1960 to 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr., served as copastor. King's grandfather, the Rev. A. D. Williams, dedicated the church to "the advancement of black people and every righteous and social movement." His son-in-law and successor, Martin Luther King, Sr., worked for voting rights and other aspects of black civil and social advancement, following Williams's activist example. Later, Martin Luther King, Jr., would join his ancestors in pursuing justice for African Americans.
The congregation has built a new sanctuary directly across the street, but the older building, where Martin Luther King, Jr., preached, continues to be open to the public. Short but informative tours of the sanctuary, conducted by members of the Ebenezer congregation, are given Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm, Saturday from 9am to 2pm, and Sunday from 2 to 4pm. One of the best things to do is attend a Sunday-morning worship service in the new sanctuary. The public is welcome -- and you'll realize just how welcome when the members of the congregation leave their seats at the beginning of the service to shake the hands of as many visitors as possible. It's a living testimonial to all that the church's most famous son stood for. Sunday services are at 7:45 and 10:45am. The sanctuary is usually packed, so it's a good idea to arrive well ahead of time. Groups of six or more should call the church office at tel. 404/688-7263 to make reservations. An ecumenical service also takes place here every year during King Week (Jan 9-15).