Clayborn Temple blessed during ceremony Tuesday

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- One of the oldest, most iconic churches in Memphis was once again filled with prayer.

Song and worship filled the Clayborn Temple downtown as a blessing ceremony was held Tuesday afternoon.

The Clayborn Temple is a key monument from the Civil Rights movement and now there's action to reinvigorate the building's rich history.

The historical building had fallen into disrepair. The paint was peeling inside and part of the ceiling was missing. It has sat empty next to the FedExForum for years. However on Tuesday developers met with the public to discuss more of their plans for change. The key word was possibility.

"Just to celebrate what's to come."

That's why Derrick Oliver, an elder with the Downtown Church, attended the blessing ceremony. He told WREG he's excited to see new life be breathed into the walls and pews of Clayborn Temple.

Back in the 1960s, the building served as the distribution point for the iconic "I Am a Man" signs used in the marches of sanitation workers.

Those marches brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the Bluff City.

Oliver came to the blessing Tuesday because he has a vision the church can help future generations.

"And see Dr. King's dream becoming a reality. So much possibility," he said.

More than a hundred other clergy and community members saw that possibility as well.

"We have been completely obsessed with the building and the different features for so long that to begin to see the public come in and share the joy with us is indescribable," said developer Rob Thompson.

There's still lots of work to be done, including millions in renovations. The goal over the next few weeks is to figure out an eventual use for the historical building everyone can enjoy.

"Our hope is that through this activation time Clayborn reborn this season that we'll get different input from the community," said Thompson.

Funding to rehabilitate the church has come from private donors. Tuesday night developers also heard from artists about their visions for the building too.