Musician John Mellencamp visits First African Baptist Church

Published: Oct. 19, 2023 at 10:37 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2023 at 11:43 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Standing strong in the middle of downtown is First African Baptist Church, whose history runs deep and strong in the Savannah Area.

“It’s amazing to know that a congregation that started in 1777 is still worshiping today in 2023.”

History that draws tourists, historians, and even musicians to its hallowed halls. Sitting in the front pew of this past Sunday’s Service was a familiar face.

“I would like to introduce John Mellencamp.”

A special guest, with a special tie to First African.

“He was working on his 24th album, No Better than This, and he recorded three songs for that album right here,” said Karen Wrotham, the church historian.

In 2009, Mellencamp sought out the First African Baptist Church for its history and great acoustics.

Since then, he has become a familiar face to the congregation aside from his fame.

“One of the coolest guys I’ve ever met and he is just that when he did that when he recorded those songs. He actually got baptized here at First African,” said Wrotham.

Over the years, Mellencamp has made several appearances at the church but typically stays in the back but recently, he wanted to take his attendance a bit further.

“He came here one day around 3 o’clock as I was shutting down and letting my guests out for a tour and he came in and he said, ‘Karen, I would like to come during the fall and actually sing a couple selections,’” said Wrotham.

And so he did.... singing a song he dedicated to his late grandmother as she would pray for him long before he knew what his future held.

“You’ll find out soon enough Life is short, even on your longest days…” said Mellencamp.

Wrotham says that they do expect him to hold a concert in the near future but do not have a date set.