First Baptist Church teams with other parishes on Black History Month event

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The crowd that filled St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Friday night got a chance to learn about black history and help another church at the same time.

First Baptist Church held the event in conjunction with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, St. John the Baptist Church and Amherstburg Community Church with the evening starting with a tour of First Baptist Church before it headed to St. Andrew’s where the presentations and meal occurred.

“It’s amazing the reception we got from the community,” said Abiola Afolabi, director of outreach with First Baptist Church. “This is a great community.”

Irene Moore Davis was the guest speaker at a special Black History Month event Friday night.

Irene Moore Davis was the guest speaker at a special Black History Month event Friday night.

Afolabi, who was born in Nigeria, said she is very interested in black history and wanted to do something for Black History Month. She said it is not only about those of African-Canadian heritage, but those of other cultures who helped during the days of the Underground Railroad.

“It is your history, it is my history, it is everyone’s history that is part of this land,” she told the crowd.

Not only did she thank the churches that teamed together, she also thanked everyone who had a hand in presenting the event. She particularly thanked all of those who attended Friday night.

“It would not be what it is without you guys,” she told the crowd of nearly 100 people.

The evening’s guest speaker was Irene Moore Davis, who educated the crowd on the area’s black history. Among Davis’ many titles are her presidency of the Essex County Black History Society and she told the stories of courage of those who travelled the Underground Railroad and those who helped them along the way. She noted that there were laws in northern U.S. states in that era prohibiting people from helping slaves to escape.

“There were pretty serious legal consequences for people caught doing that,” said Davis.

There were eight readings from community members woven into Davis’ presentation to illustrate what was going on during the Underground Railroad period. Davis noted that slave catchers would cross into Canada to try and capture slaves and bring them back though many escaped slaves still chose to live near the Detroit River in places like Amherstburg.

It is said that 30,000 escaped slaves crossed into Canada, though Davis called that “a conservative estimate” as many didn’t want to let anyone know they were in Canada for fear of being caught.

With Canada celebrating its 150th birthday this year, Davis said there is no better time to reflect on lessons people can learn from the past.

“It is important to know the Canada we now have did not take place by accident,” she said, adding the decisions and actions taken years ago by people overcoming obstacles helped shape the country.

First Baptist Church director of outreach Abiola Afolabi, Pastor Olaniyi Afolabi, trustee Eric Buchholzer and Deacon Terry Simms are photographed after the Black History Month presentation and meal at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church Feb. 24. They also hosted an open house at First Baptist Church.

First Baptist Church director of outreach Abiola Afolabi, Pastor Olaniyi Afolabi, trustee Eric Buchholzer and Deacon Terry Simms are photographed after the Black History Month presentation and meal at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Feb. 24. They also hosted an open house at First Baptist Church.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo also brought greetings and said the stories of African-Canadians have shaped Amherstburg as well.

“We are so rich in history and part of our history is our belief in human rights and that we are all treated equally,” said DiCarlo.

First Baptist Church also held a free will offering to try and fundraise for their church. The George St. church is over 180 years old and sustained water damage about eight years ago. There have been some repairs but church members continue to appeal for funds as they want to further upgrade their church.

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