Black History Month

BELPRE – For the 18th year, Whitman Chapel AME Church hosted a Black History Celebration and Luncheon on Saturday at Rockland United Methodist Church in Parkersburg.

This year’s speaker was the Rev. Acie Eugene Collins, with New Life AME Church in Columbus. Collins is also chief of the chaplains service at the Veterans Affairs facility in Chillicothe, Ohio, for 12 years.

Collins urged those in attendance to put away childish things and grow up into mature men and women. He also spoke about the importance of love and the importance placed on it in the Scriptures.

“Love never dies, it never dies,” he told the people in attendance at Saturday’s event, urging them to talk to each other and learn from each other.

Collins said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also spoke about love and peace.

“There’s so much divide in terms of race, creed and gender, my emphasis is to bring us together living out the dream of Dr. King, who stated he had come to the promised land and the fact that he saw everything as one,” Collins said Saturday during the luncheon.

“He reached out to all races and people and I certainly think that dream needs to be orchestrated, not just by talking about it but by doing, which is so important, to bridge that wide gap and bring unity and harmony together the way Dr. King would want it to be,” Collins said.

The Rev. Deborah Marshall, associate pastor with Whitman Chapel AME Church, said Saturday’s event began 18 years ago at Sumner School in Parkersburg as a breakfast program honoring King. Since that time, it has grown in participation and attendance and has gone from a breakfast to a luncheon program held at Rockland UMC in Belpre each year.

“It’s just something that we feel the community needs,” Marshall said.

“The main thing is joining Christian people together and non-Christians and fellowshipping together,” she said.

The Rev. Kenneth Boyd, pastor at Whitman Chapel AME Church, said he is pleased with the growth and success of the annual luncheon.

“We’re exhilarated and very happy over the growth of this program over the past 18 years. It’s completely attributable to the hard work of members and people in the community. They’ve deemed it noteworthy and something to do year after year,” he said.

Moving forward, Boyd said organizers may have to set a limit on available tickets or find a larger venue to permit attendance to continue growing. Other things the church would like to do in the future include building a scholarship fund for young people in the Belpre community and creating more youth involvement in the program, the church and the community, he said.