It happened in Harlem and now black churches in Bedford-Stuyvesant are feeling the effects of gentrification - many struggling to survive as neighborhoods change and long-time residents move out. Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez has more in this special report.
The choir singing, parishioners clapping, women wearing Sunday finery, ushers donning gloves. A typical Sunday at the Cornerstone Baptist Church, a fixture on Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant celebrating its 100th anniversary.
"When the right song plays, it touches your spirit. it touches your heart. And you can leave this place not being the same as you were when you came in," said Aimee Edwards, a parishioner.
But as the church changes lives, the life of the church is changing, too. The pews are no longer filled.
And those who do come, mostly are older now.
"When we came it was packed and a lot of people. Tremendous membership. But as that changes, the cost to maintain it does not change. The cost has escalated. But when you have a smaller congregation, it's very difficult to maintain," said Ella Parks, a parishioner.
Cornerstone and other black churches in Bedford-Stuyvesant are at a crossroads as gentrification sweeps the storied black community.
Young, white and upper income New Yorkers have moved, attracted to the culturally rich neighborhood and its solid housing stock. Brownstones here now sell for millions. And rents are skyrocketing.
Many young people who grew up here can no longer afford to live here.
"I lived in Bedford Stuyvesant all my life. I actually recently moved to Brownsville about 2 years ago," said Kalipha Boyd, a parishioner.
"My goal, with the grace of God, is to be able to purchase a home here in Brooklyn close to my church so I can stay here," said Jarod Edwards, a parishioner.
The combination of dwindling congregations and rising property values has pushed some churches to sell their buildings, transforming this community even more.
Antioch Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Bedford Avenue, The Living Stone Baptist Church on Pulaski Street and the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church on Halsey Street are all up for sale, at prices ranging from $2.5 to $6 million.
At the John Wesley United Methodist Church on Quincy Street there is no for sale sign yet, but the pastor admits to seeking divine intervention.
"I'm hoping and praying that at some point this place will be full," said Rev. Ebenezer Aduku.
Aduku says he's leads just one service on Sundays, down from three, with an average of 70 congregants scattered among the pews. M. Derene Frazier has attended church here her whole life. She points to familiar faces in a picture from the 1960's when she had to arrive early to get a seat.
"The church was the center of everything. The churches were the center. I have seen a packed church to an empty church," Frazier said.
At Cornerstone, the pastor says only a fraction of the church's listed membership of 1,300 attend service regularly. For the church to survive, he's trying to reach younger people by providing more youth ministries and rebranding his outreach campaign.
"We are the Cornerstone that's been here for 100 years, but we're not necessarily your grandmother's Cornerstone where you can't come and get something that's fresh for the 21st century," said Rev. Lawrence Aker.
It's a mission for an institution hoping to stay relevant in a changing community.