In this installment in Evangelical Dark Web’s series on Ghost Megachurches, we examine Friendship West Baptist Church, a predominantly black megachurch in Georgia. In the past this series has covered FBC Orlando, a notorious Southern Baptist church, The Potter’s House Denver closing a location, and Salem Baptist Church hiring Charlie Dates to stem their bleeding. This edition arose not because of the pastor of this church but, a special guest pastor: Senator Raphael Warnock. Raphael Warnock is a pastor who ran as a Democrat in 2020 and won a special election. He is as Democrat as they come and is widely known for his promotion of the Social Justice Gospel. Yet not even for him did a woke church turn out.
Friendship West Baptist Church is an organization that wears social justice on its sleeves. It’s all over their website. Over the last two and a half years, this church in Georgia, the first state to end lockdowns, went hard into Branch Covidianism. To this day, its congregation is almost entirely masked.
This massive church has multiple pyramids built into its architecture to connect with its African roots. This is perhaps the only church website we’ve ever encountered that does not have a street address. Boasting 12000 members it appears only hundreds came out to watch a sitting US Senator speak.
Portions of the screen where crowd size is revealed show sparse crowds in much of the auditorium, a stark contrast to some of the earlier imagery shown as b-roll footage on their past sermon uploads. Despite having a minimal sermon archive available on YouTube prior to 2020, FWBC amassed 19.2K subs. The church is more focused on community activism than building an online presence, if its website and production value are anything to go by.
Yet despite these metric, both observed and self-proclaimed, Raphael Warnock did not draw a crowd to this woke church. Studies have shown that black churches were hit harder by lockdowns in terms of attendance. The willingness to adopt and cater to online worship as a permanent replacement option for their congregants is something FWBC looks to have done. Or perhaps they simply aren’t as big as they used to be, and an above average viewed sermon from a high profile guest is nothing to indicate a hidden online presence permeating beneath the surface.
In any case, this woke church no longer the atmosphere they once were, and its clear that its heavy embrace of lockdowns are the reason why.